Format: ARC

Reading Roundup – 28th March 2014

This week I suffered every bookworm’s worst nightmare; I have a TBR list of over 100 books (some of which I have been offered free to review) and I could not interest myself in any of them.  This is because the book I really, REALLY wanted to read – AKA Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige – has not been released yet.  I’m sure you avid readers can empathise with my dilemma.  I flicked through several different books and just couldn’t get into any of them.  In the end I managed to break out of my reading slump by picking up a book that is completely out of my normal genre – I’m currently reading The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak, a historical fiction set in Russia in the time of Catherine the Great.  So far I’m really enjoying it.  A full review will come soon.

Reading Roundup – 28th March 2014Attack the Geek by Michael R. Underwood
Series: Geekomancy #1.5
Format: ARC
Pages: 142 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Supernatural
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One book I did manage to read this week was Attack the Geek by Michael R Underwood, which I received free to review from Netgalley.  This is a novella in the Geekomancy series which had been on my radar for some time.  I was intrigued by the magic system which, like Jim C. Hines’ Magic ex Libris books, is based on popular culture.  However, whereas Hines’ magic is book based, Geekomancy is more gamer/comic book based.  I’m glad I read it.  It made me realise that the series is not quite for me.  I have been known to play the odd game of Dungeons and Dragons and I enjoy a Marvel movie as much as the next girl, but the overload of geek references was just too much for me.  Personally I was also put off by the amount of needless profanity.  The characters were possibly interesting, but in a novella length book character development is very limited.  With less geek references and less swearing I might have been interested in reading more about them but as it stands, this series is  not for me.

I gave Attack the Geek two stars out of five.  Having said that, if D&D gaming is your thing you might love this series.  Other than that I would steer you in the direction of Magic ex Libris.

Added to my library this week

As I may have mentioned before, I am a big fan of the Quebecoise author Anne Robillard and her Chevaliers d’Emeraude and A.N.G.E. series.  These have slowly been converted into ebooks and book five in A.N.G.E. – Codex Angelicus – was released this week!  Excellent!  I’ve been waiting months to find out the next chapter in the saga of the Agence Nationale pour la Gestion de l’Etrange.  (National Agency for the Management of the Strange.)  I picked this one up in Kobo format as I have the rest of them there.   

To get through my reading slump I also picked up The Winter Palace by Eva Strachniak, also in Kobo format.  In case you’re wondering, no I’m not abandoning my Kindle.  I happened to have my Kobo with me as that’s what I use to read my Netgalley books.

From Amazon I did pick up The Wife of John the Baptist, a historical fiction novel set in Biblical times.  I was asked to review this by the author, so expect a review soon.

This morning I received a lovely package from Tor-Forge which contained two gorgeous hardbacks:

IMG 1032

The Pilgrims is described as “ordinary alternate-world fantasy; with this first volume in The Pendulum Trilogy, Will Elliott’s brilliantly subversive imagination twists the conventions of the alternate-world fantasy genre, providing an unforgettable visionary experience.”  I look forward to reading this.

Lockstep: “When seventeen-year-old Toby McGonigal finds himself lost in space, separated from his family, he expects his next drift into cold sleep to be his last. After all, the planet he’s orbiting is frozen and sunless, and the cities are dead. But when Toby wakes again, he’s surprised to discover a thriving planet, a strange and prosperous galaxy, and something stranger still—that he’s been asleep for 14,000 years.”  Space opera is not my usual genre, but this sounds intriguing.

Thank you Tor!

Upcoming releases this month

On 1st April 2014 we have my most anticipated book of the month – Dorothy Must Die.  This is the book that sent me into a reading slump because it wasn’t released yet and I didn’t want to read anything else because I wanted to read it so much.  Check out my review of There’s No Place Like Oz to see why I’m so excited about this book.  In short, it’s what happens in Oz when Dorothy goes bad.  I’ve preordered this in both Kindle and Audible formats.

The following week, on the 8th of April, Dreams of Gods and Monsters is released.   This is the third in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.  It’s difficult to summarise this series, so I’ll direct you to my review.  I loved the first book, and haven’t been able to get into the second.  However, I still have Dreams of Gods and Monsters on Kindle preorder.  It’s not yet available to preorder on Audible, which would be my preferred format – Khristine Hvam’s narration is excellent.

The next book in the Austen Project, Val McDermid’s reimagining of Northanger Abbey is available in Kindle format on the 15th of April.  Interestingly the Audible pre-order is available this week.  I’m actually not familiar with Austen’s original work, so perhaps my expectations aren’t as high (and ready for disappointment as I was with the Sense and Sensibility updating)  I see this version is set in Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders which is my old home, so I’m interested to see how it pans out.

What are you looking forward to reading in April?

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and Now by Ann BrasharesThe Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Format: ARC
Pages: 256 pages
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Through Netgalley I was offered an advanced reader’s copy of YA time travel novel The Here and Now by Ann Brashares.  It tells the story of Prenna James, a time traveller and refugee in our time from a future in which global warming and plagues have left the world devastated.  She and her community of fellow refugees must live by strict rules for their protection and that of those native to their adopted time.  One of these includes refraining from an intimate relationship with a local.  Naturally Prenna meets a boy…

In general, I found The Here and Now to be a very fun, if light, read.  The time travel refugee concept was interesting but so much more could have been done with it.  The whole concept of time paradoxes (you know, the old chestnut, you can’t travel back in time and kill your own grandfather) was ignored and the issue of Prenna’s adaptation to the new society was glossed over.

What I liked

The concept.  The idea of refugees escaping back in time from a devastated future was very interesting.  The list of rules by which they must live is very interesting, too – I did struggle to understand how Prenna could not see their necessity.  The introduction of Poppy and Andrew Baltos added an extra layer to the time travel storyline.

The Prenna/Ethan romance.  I really enjoyed this – I liked the way it was built up and how they supported each other.  

What I didn’t like

Scratching the surface.  I know this is young adult literature, but I felt the book lacked depth.  So much more could have been explored with time travel paradoxes, the whole source of the plague and environmental issues.  I had the impression that Prenna never really understood the need for the rules, and also why the time traveller community was reluctant to become involved in society.  The whole question of who is at the source of the fork in time could have been expanded much more.

All in all though, I did enjoy The Here and Now and gave it three and a half stars out of five.

 buy from Amazon, Kobo

three-half-stars

Reading Roundup – Friday 21st February 2014

Reading Roundup – Friday 21st February 2014The Land of Honey by Chinenye Obiajulu
Format: ARC
Pages: 336 pages
Genres: General Literature
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Recently I was asked to review The Land of Honey by Chinenye Obiajulu.  This is the account of Zimako’s and Anuli’s, a professional Nigerian couple’s, experiences as they immigrate from Nigeria to Canada.  It deals with their struggles to adapt to Canadian culture and also to enter the Canadian workforce.  It is additionally a moving account of how struggle to adapt put a strain on what appeared to be a strong marriage.

What I liked

Well written and structured.  I appreciated that Obiajulu spent some time with the couple in their original home of Nigeria before their move to Canada.  This section of the book did an excellent job of introducing us to Anuli and Zimako and explaining their reasons for moving as well as the ties that continued to bind them to Nigeria.  Obiajulu describes Nigeria in a vivid and colourful way, making use of local dialect to add to the picture – there is a glossary of Nigerian terms included in the book.It is important to get a sense of where the couple is coming from, their values and what they hope to gain from the move to Canada.  

Relatable.  As an immigrant to Canada myself, I found myself very much relating to Anuli and Zimako and their experiences.  I actually found myself viewing the story through two sets of eyes.  I saw myself when I first came to Canada, full of excitement and certainty that a wonderful new life was waiting, but also with the eyes of a more experienced immigrant knowing the struggles and frustrations that lay ahead for them.   

What I didn’t like

I really enjoyed this book, but the ending felt a little abrupt and rushed.  I would have liked to have learned more about how Anuli’s story continued.

I gave The Land of Honey four stars out of five.

Added to my library this week

I picked up the Kindle version of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus.  So far, it’s really growing on me – expect a full review at some point.

Recently Amazon emailed me about a new YA book, Alienated by Melissa Landers.  It’s about a teenage girl who is chosen to have a humanoid alien L’eihr as a houseguest as part of an ambassador’s program to foster better relationships between the L’eihrs and humans.  I was intrigued by the synopsis and enjoyed the sample so will be reading it at some point.

Finally, my attention was directed to a YouTube trailer for The Return, a book I have reviewed.  Check it out.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising by Pierce BrownRed Rising by Pierce Brown
Format: ARC
Pages: 401 pages
Genres: Dystopian
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Red Rising by Pierce Brown is the first in a trilogy of YA dystopian novels.  It tells the story of Darrow who, after his wife’s martyrdom, is given the opportunity to escape his lower class existence in order to infiltrate his society’s elite.  The idea behind this is that he will give the rebels opposing the current regime a man on the inside to help bring down the current system.  When he learns that his class has been lied to for many years, he doesn’t hesitate to take this opportunity.

I received a copy free to review from Netgalley.  Del Rey is promoting Red Rising quite heavily at the moment, and it’s always quite fun to see books I’ve read free on huge piles in bookstores or in internet advertisements.  Feedback has been generally excellent – Red Rising has an average rating of 4.35 on GoodReads.

What I liked

Good worldbuilding.  Brown does an excellent job of setting up the world in which Darrow lives originally, his challenges, and despair at his wife’s death.  He then follows it up with a good description of the world of the Golds – the elite – the world Darrow must infiltrate.  While survival of the fittest to be accepted into a program is hardly unusual it was well written and enjoyable.

Pacing.  The pacing throughout the novel was brisk and kept the story moving along.  There was never a point where I was waiting for the next thing to happen.

Characters.  The central character dilemma – how to remain true to your values while acting and living as one of the people you despise – was well explored and very interesting.  It was clear many times that Darrow was struggling to do what was required of a Gold in terms of ruthlessness.  However, it did leave the reader with the definite concern that he might “turn native” so to speak and adapt too well to his Golden status.

What I didn’t like

Just didn’t grab me.  There is nothing wrong with this book.  It is an interesting premise well executed.  For some reason though I just couldn’t connect with the main character.  I sympathised with him, but I found I didn’t really care about him.  I don’t believe this was any fault of the author, more just personal preference.  I’m not certain I will read the second book, Golden Son, when it comes out.

I gave Red Rising three and a half stars out of five.

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four-stars

Reading Roundup – 10th January 2014

Reading Roundup – 10th January 2014The Re-Awakening by Carter Vance
Series: Second Coming #2
Also in this series: The Return
Format: ARC
Pages: 325 pages
Genres: Contemporary
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Good morning, and welcome to another reading roundup.  Here are a few of the books I’ve read over the holiday season.

I was recently given a copy of The Re-Awakening by the author free of charge to review.  This is the second book in Vance’s Second Coming series and continues the story of Lazarus Christos, the reborn Christ who has come to battle evil in the end of days.  Like its predecessor, The Return (see my review) it is a mystery thriller in the vein of say Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.

Being the second in a series, The Re-Awakening is more setup and less action packed than the first book.  One of the characters described the conflict as a chess match – this book is where the players are putting their pieces into place and are preparing for the final battle.  That is an excellent analysis of the book.  I continued to find the characters and concept interesting and will probably read the next book to see what happens next.

I gave The Re-Awakening three and a half stars out of five

Hobbit LessonsHobbit Lessons: A Map for Life’s Unexpected Journeys by Devin Brown
Genres: General Literature
Format: ARC 
Pages: 356 pages
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three-stars

In many ways, Tolkien’s Hobbit is a modern day fairytale.  The thing about fairytales, of course, is that they are moral codes/life lessons presented in a way to allow younger readers to understand them.  I’m talking of course about the non-Disney versions.  Little Red Riding Hood is a tale about being wary of strangers, Cinderella shows that a good and honest heart is more valuable than external beauty.  The Hobbit, too, contains such life lessons and is based on Professor Tolkien’s own predominantly Christian moral code.

Brown’s book is an exploration of these, which range from the value of friendship, the need to lessen dependence on material possessions and the positive aspects of getting out of a rut.  Most of these are apparent to a reader, but it is always interesting to see them highlighted and explained here.

I gave Hobbit Lessons three stars out of five.

 Mary Poppins, She Wrote by Valerie Lawson 
Genres: Autobiographies/Biographies
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Terry Donnelly
Length:  14 hrs and 12 mins 
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two-stars

I’ll say straight off that my motivation for reading Mary Poppins, She Wrote was that it formed the basis for the wonderful movie Saving Mr Banks with Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks who play P.L. Travers and Walt Disney respectively.  The movies features a strong script, a cast at the top of its game (Thompson is already receiving considerable awards buzz for her performance) as well as the excellent music of the Sherman brothers from the Julie Andrews movie.  Yes, I’m a closet musicals fan.  Deal with it.  

The movie only takes a small fraction of the book and focusses on the struggle between Travers and Disney to agree on how to adapt Mary Poppins for the screen and the rest of the time it focusses on Travers’ search for a father figure, her constant need to reinvent herself as well as her involvement in the Celtic Twilight.   My issue with the book isn’t the writing or the narration but the fact that, unlike the other biographies I’ve read (those of Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, Steve Jobs) I would really not enjoy sitting down to a meal with Pamela Travers.  I simply found I had little interest or anything in common with the woman described in the book.

I gave Mary Poppins, She Wrote two stars out of five.

 Added to my library this week

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau.  This is the sequel to The Testing which I read last year and very much enjoyed.  It continues the story of Cia Vale and how her life changes since surviving The Testing.  I picked this up in both Kindle and Audible formats.  Sadly, Whispersync for Voice is not enabled for this title, which is a pity.  Expect a full review soon.

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong – Review

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong – ReviewSea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Age of Legends #1
Format: ARC
Pages: 356 pages
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-stars

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong is the first in a new YA epic fantasy series.  It tells the story of Ashyn and Moria, twins who are destined from birth to take on the roles of Seeker and Keeper respectively.  In the world of the Sea of Shadows, the dead don’t always rest quietly, and it’s the job of the Keeper and Seeker to keep them under control and to send them to their rest.  Ashyn and Moria are new to the role and are inexperienced, and naturally, this is the point at which the dead choose to mount a full scale attack.  Their attempt to control and investigate this uprising brings them in contact with the upper echelons of power and all the accompanying politics.

I must admit I found this a difficult book to get into.  That wasn’t through any fault of the book itself I don’t believe; it just didn’t appeal to me personally.

What I liked

The relationships.  I thought the relationships between Ashyn and Moria and also between the girls and their respective love interests was well written and believable. I did feel invested in the pairings and I am glad that there was no love triangle.  They have enough work dealing with their trust issues.

The concept.  I did think the initial concept was interesting, although I wasn’t so fond of its execution.

The twist in the ending.  Mmmm, I didn’t see that coming, although in hindsight it was well set up.

What I didn’t like

Horrific descriptions.  I found that I was put off by the amount of blood, guts and gore mentioned in the book.  We get that these walkers are evil and that dangerous beasts lurk in the forest – I don’t think we needed quite so many descriptions of people’s innards being ripped out or their faces being dissolved by acid.

As I say, Sea of Shadows didn’t grab me personally.  You may enjoy it more than I did.  Let me know in the comments

I gave Sea of Shadows three and a half stars out of five.

 buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes

three-stars

Reading Roundup – 15th November 2013

Reading Roundup – 15th November 2013State vs. Lassiter by Paul Levine
Format: ARC
Pages: 254 pages
Genres: Mystery
Buy from Amazon
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

One of the books I read this week was one I was given free to review by the author, State vs. Lassiter by Paul Levine.  This is a legal mystery/thriller in which trial lawyer Jake Lassiter sees court from the other side as he is framed for murder.  This is the tenth in the Jake Lassiter series, but only the first one I have read.  Not having read the others didn’t impact my enjoyment of the book; State vs. Lassiter is quite capable of working as a stand-alone.  Legal thrillers is not a genre I read a lot of although I do enjoy it.  In this one I particularly appreciated the way Levine, a former trial lawyer himself, was able to express complex legal aspects clearly and succinctly to be easily understood by a layman like myself.  

The narrative style was fresh and engaging and each chapter ended on a cliffhanger to keep me reading more.  One aspect I didn’t appreciate so much was the way women were depicted in the novel.  For me a little too much focus was placed on their sexual allure rather than their mental acumen.  Despite that, I enjoyed the book and gave it four stars out of five.

This week a new trailer was released for the Divergent movie starring Shailene Woody and Theo James.  From what I’m seeing this looks to be a great adaptation of a fantastic book.  There have been some great casting coups – I’m particularly looking forward to Oscar winner Kate Winslet as Jeanine Matthews.  

This week, too, I’ve been sucked into the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary buildup.  Having watched some interviews with David Bradley, who plays William Hartnell, and writer Mark Gattiss, I’m particularly excited by An Adventure in Space and Time.  This is a docudrama about the origins of Doctor Who.  Both Gattis and Bradley come across as very passionate about the project and also very sensitive of the place the program occupies in British culture.  Reviews from the prescreening at the BFI have been positive.  Go and take a look at the trailer.

It’s not often in these days of the internet that show runners are able to pull off a major surprise, but it appears Steven Moffat has succeeded in keeping the secret of the prequel The Night of the Doctor.  Much fangirl squeeing and running off to check out Big Audio Finish’s selection of Doctor Who full cast audiobooks ensued.  Judging from the Twitter frenzy, most of the fandom seemed to agree with me, which was lovely to see.  What a wonderful birthday gift for PM.  

A rather interesting exercise I undertook this week was to watch the very first episode of Doctor Who first broadcast almost 50 years ago, An Unearthly Child, and follow it up with the most recent episode of the reboot, The Name of the Doctor.  It’s interesting to see how much it has changed – and what has stayed the same.  The Doctor’s personality is different, understandable, given how it changes with regeneration.  However, the focus was more on exploration than saving the planet from destruction.  The police box and signature tunes have remained though – ware the show runner who messes with those icons!

Added to my library this week

In keeping with my mania for all things Who, I’ve added a couple of audiobooks to my collection,  The Ultimate Foe and the Eighth Doctor’s Dark Eyes.  I also added a couple of the Best Of the classic Doctor collections.  Amazon and iTunes already have preorders up for The Day of the Doctor, and I chose the iTunes season pass.  As well as the forthcoming Day of the Doctor and An Adventure in Space and Time, it includes the Doctors Revisited documentaries for Doctors Eight to Eleven.  

Also this week I took advantage of the Whispersync for Voice deal to pick up Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas from Audible for $4.

Since I loved The Darkest Minds so much, I added the novella, in Time to my Kindle collection.

Are you excited about the Doctor Who anniversary?  Let me know in the comments.

four-stars

One Great Year by Tamara Veitch – Review

one great year
One Great Year by Tamara Veitch – ReviewOne Great Year by Tamara Veitch
Format: ARC
Pages: 419 pages
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

One Great Year tells the story of lovers Marcus and Theron and spurned suitor Helghul who are from the lost world of Atitala (Atlantis).  Marcus and Theron take on the role of Emissary, spiritual guide and leader to guide the world through One Great Year, the countless millennia while the world moves from a dark Iron Age to turn once again to a Golden Age.  Helghul acts as the counterbalance to this goal.  

After the initial setup, for a good three quarters of this book I became increasingly frustrated and disengaged.  My biggest issue was that I really, really didn’t like the protagonist, Marcus.  He starts off the book as whiny and self absorbed, unable to look beyond the separation from his love.  Several millennia and several cyclical regenerations later, the book finds him still whiny, still self absorbed and still obsessed with Theron.  What made it worse for me was his neglect of his sacred duty as Emissary – I had the impression that, as far as he was concerned, the world could turn to custard if he could be with his Theron.  I became really frustrated at the lack of character development for Marcus.  

In terms of the other two main characters, Theron was portrayed as goodness personified, so there was much less scope for character development from her side.  Helghul was your stereotypical evil overlord, except that I was frustrated that no solid reason for his actions were given at first.  Rarely does evil do evil for evil’s sake, or at least those who do make singularly uninteresting villains.  Usually, there is some solid reason, such as a desire for power or revenge.

Having said all that, this is all turned around in the last quarter of the book.  The underlying themes and character arcs that had been building slowly finally came to the fore and elevated One Great Year from a mediocre YA romance to a well written, thought provoking narrative.  I still can’t say I like Marcus any better, but I can appreciate his interesting character arc.

What I liked

The concept.  I loved the basic concept of our characters being guides to lead the world through a cycle of a dark age.  I also felt it was very well executed.  

Interesting themes.  Some of the themes explored in One Great Year are fascinating – these include, among others, the cosmic Balance, choice and free will, the cyclical nature of history and our world.

What I didn’t like

The slow character development and pacing.  See above comments.

One Great Year is a book with which you may need to persevere.  I personally felt the payoff in the last quarter of the book was worth it and gave One Great Year four stars out of five. 

four-stars

The Godborn by Paul S Kemp – Review

godborn
The Godborn by Paul S Kemp – ReviewThe Godborn by Paul S Kemp, R.A. Salvatore
Series: The Sundering #2
Also in this series: The Companions
Format: ARC
Pages: 336
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: two-stars

I received a copy of The Godborn by Paul S Kemp free to review via Netgalley.  I should preface my thoughts by noting that I am not very familiar with Kemp’s The Twilight War trilogy and when reading this book I often felt as if I were a new reader to the Wheel of Time who had picked the series up at book four.  I had the impression that a lot of assumptions of previous knowledge about the world have been made and I often found it difficult to keep up.  I suspect that if you are already up to speed, you will have quite a different experience reading this book than mine.  This is reflected in the low rating I gave this book.

The Godborn tells of Vasen Cale’s quest to reunite the shards of Mask’s divinity which had been split among three people and to prevent Shar’s reincarnation which would lead to world destruction.  At least that’s what I think it was about.  I wasn’t very clear.

What I liked

The premise.  I felt the idea of pieces of divinity having to be collected and reassembled interesting and well done.

What I disliked

Lack of focus.  The Godborn is a relatively short book at only 336 pages, yet I felt it had a cast equivalent to that of the Wheel of Time.  Too often I felt that we spent a few pages getting to know a character who then disappears a few chapters later.  In such a short book this time would have been better spent concentrating on our main characters so that we actually care about them.  Without time devoted to them, our protagonists feel flat.  I couldn’t help comparing this to The Companions, the first in The Sundering series, which is a far more tightly focussed book concentrating on four or five main characters.

Likewise, I felt there were too many irrelevant plot lines.  For example, while I liked Brennus and his homunculi, his relationship with his brother and father and his desire for revenge felt irrelevant to the main plot line.  

Overemphasising themes.  Clearly light vs dark is a major theme in this book.  I understand that.  I didn’t need it rammed down my throat every five or six pages.  By the end of a few chapters I was groaning and shaking my head at yet another mention of Vasen’s shadows alongside the faith light of his shield or the silver hidden beneath the tarnish.  

All in all, I struggled to finish this book, and I suspect it was partly due to my lack of familiarity with Kemp’s previous work.  If you have not read them, I cannot in all honesty recommend this book to a new reader.  If you have read The Twilight War you may enjoy it a lot more.  If so, please let me know in the comments.

I gave The Godborn by Paul S Kemp two stars out of five.

 buy from Amazon, Kobo, Audible

two-stars

Longbourn by Jo Baker – Review

longbourn
Longbourn by Jo Baker – ReviewLongbourn by Jo Baker
Format: ARC
Pages: 352
Genres: Women's Lit
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Longbourn by Jo Baker is the retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of the Longbourn servants.  I received a copy free to review via Netgalley.  I should start by saying straight off that this retelling doesn’t have Austen’s sharp insight and witty dialogue, but that would be a lot to ask of any writer.  That is not to say it’s not an enjoyable read nevertheless.

 What I liked

Meeting old friends again.  I’ve always loved Pride and Prejudice and Austen’s characters and enjoyed meeting them again from a fresh perspective.  Baker has done well in maintaining the essence of the characters.  Jane is still as sweet and lovely, Lydia is still immature and naive, Darcy is still aloof, Wickham is still a slimy piece of work.  What I did enjoy about this interpretation was the added depth we got to some of the more minor characters.  Yes, Mrs. Bennet is still a drama queen, but we get more of a sense of the unhappiness beneath her need for attention.  Likewise, Mr. Collins; although he remains smarmy, we see more of the young man struggling to cope with an elevated position without the necessary experience or social skills.  Two characters who didn’t come across as well in the new adaptation were Mr. Bennet and surprisingly our beloved Lizzie. It was clear from Pride and Prejudice that Mr. Bennet is a weak man,  but Longbourn takes this to new depths.  I really began to dislike this character after reading Longbourn.  I was disappointed just how little regard Lizzie seemed to actually show for the servants.  Certainly, she is kind and respectful, but 

… and new ones.  I enjoyed reading about Sarah and her life at Longbourn and about James.  They were both engaging characters and nicely written.  I was interested to see which way their story would go.  I did find the whole “who is James and what’s his secret” dragged out far too long, however, especially as the answer was telegraphed pretty clearly early on.  Mrs. Hill’s story was very sad and touching and I enjoyed reading about her.  Her relationship with Mr. Hill is certainly not something I can imagine Austen describing.

Matching the Pride and Prejudice story beats.  I enjoyed the fact that Baker included events in Pride and Prejudice as seen from the servants’ point of view.  For example when the Bennets go to the Netherfield ball, we see James having to drive them and Sarah wait up for their return.  Events such as the Bingleys’ departure for London while dramatic for the Bennet sisters, has less impact downstairs which I enjoyed.

What I didn’t like

The description of James’ whole backstory.  Yes, I understand that his past as a soldier is important both in terms of story and character development, but too much time was spent in descriptions of battles and battlefields.  I chose Longbourn because I wanted to read about life in the great houses of England, not about traipsing through mud and rain as a soldier.

All in all though, I did enjoy reading Longbourn, even if Jane Austen it is not.  I gave Longbourn three and a half stars out of five.

 pre-order from Amazon, Audible

three-half-stars
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