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26.

Mar
(2012.)

Review: A Lady Awakened

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A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Lady Awakened is, in its way, a great book; I was tempted to give it a five-star rating, and that doesn’t happen often. In the end, I decided to stick to four stars, but I will be expecting Ms. Grant to come up with a five-star book eventually.

In a sea of historicals, this one stands out thanks to so many wonderful things. First of all, it dispenses with numerous cliches with regard to sex, and the magical power of The Right Wang. The titular lady, Martha, comes out of a ten-month marriage as an unexpected widow without an heir for her late husband, and decides to pay a recent arrival to the neighbourhood to get her with child so she could hold on to the property. The recent arrival is the eldest son of a baron, banished to the country in order to mend his wicked ways.… Daj dalje!

23.

Nov
(2010.)

Review: Cold Magic

excerpt thumbPrikaz na engleskom, prijenos s GoodReads. Ako je nekome teško čitati, ovih dana ću dodati i verziju na hrvatskom.

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Warning: there is a major spoiler in this review. It’s surrounded by warnings and wire-fences and whatnots, so the rest of the review is actually safe to read.

A wonderful book that manages to self-destruct in the last sentence.

Cold Magic has so much good going for it. First, it’s a fantasy that’s neither medieval nor defaulting to white, and both are good things. The story is told by Cat, an orphan raised by her aunt and uncle in a middle-class family that has financial troubles, but still manages to be a loving place — and all of these are seriously good things. Its magic system — just like its characters — is a mixture of Celtic and African mythologies, with some classic stuff thrown in for good measure, and it treats all of its sources with respect, which are (you guessed it) very good things indeed. It deals with an alternate Europe, in an alternate 19th century, which gives it the steampunky (or, as the publishers say, “icepunk”) feeling, but without glossing over the social issues brought about with industrialisation, which is one of the best in the long list of good things in this novel.… Daj dalje!

30.

May
(2012.)

Review: How to Dance With a Duke

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How to Dance With a Duke by Manda Collins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rather well-written, but remains a very average read, despite trying to play with some tropes.

The heroine, otherwise a bluestocking and a wallflower, is trying to gain access to an exclusive Egyptian-explorers club, in order to get the diaries her father wrote on his last expedition, and decides that the easiest way to achieve it would be to marry a member of the club. Because of logic.

The hero, who us also a temporarily-lame war hero1 is trying to solve the mystery of his brother’s death, which, naturally, revolves around the same club.

The moment the two meet, sparks fly, for no particularly good reason. Then they fly some more, and, in a development which is just as unconvincing as it is typical, they end up accidentally having sex2 while trying to retrieve the important papers. This inevitably leads to marriage, but the two still have to work at figuring out that they’re in love with each other, and who the murderer is — although an average reader could tell them the answer to both riddles at least a hundred pages before the end.… Daj dalje!

7.

Aug
(2012.)

Review: Smokin’ Seventeen

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Smokin’ Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one was better than the previous one… though the first five or six were still miles better. All the usual ingredients are here: Stephanie Plum is still torn between her two smokin’ hot love interests, everybody in the Burg (and in the book) is different levels of crazy, Grandma Mazur and Lula do their respective things, and the hamster still sleeps in a can. What makes Smokin’ Seventeen better than Sizzling Sixteen, though, is the fact that, in this one, the whole clicks together much better. Also, the balance between halfway readable mystery and pure farce is slightly better, although the murderer is, again, as obvious as the giant pimple Stephanie gets on her forehead when Morelli’s grandmother gives her the evil eye.

If you’re a fan of the series, you will enjoy this one, at least as a brainless summer read. If average-gal-gets-two-hunks-and-solves-mystery-against-all-odds is not your cuppa, skip the series all together.… Daj dalje!

18.

Feb
(2011.)

Review: The Graveyard Book

excerpt thumbAnother Goodreads review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me longer than ususal to finish The Graveyard Book, but that’s because I didn’t really read it: I listened to it. And it was worth every minute.

Gaiman is an autobuy-author in our household, and we got hold of The Graveyard Book the moment it came out. But, as it sometimes happens, my husband read it and then somebody borrowed the book and by the time it got back I was on a completely different part of our TBR-pile, so I quite simply forgot about it. But then I found this site. It’s a site meant for younger Gaiman fans (TGB is itself a YA), and the latest offering is Gaiman reading TGB aloud, chapter by chapter (except for Chapter 7, which is split in two parts).

I knew that Gaiman was a great storyteller — after all, that’s part of the reason for his great popularity, and TGB is no exception, with a great, fast-moving story that follows the main points of the original (TGB is Gaiman’s take on The Jungle Book, of course), but he is also a great storyteller: listening to his interpretation of his own book, with the voices and the faces, was definitely different from reading it to myself, by myself.… Daj dalje!

30.

Jul
(2012.)

Review: The Hanover Square Affair by Ashley Gardner

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The Hanover Square Affair by Ashley Gardner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I rather liked this — to be completely honest, I should give it something like 3.5 stars. It’s a well-researched historical, with people and attitudes mostly complying with their imagined time (the Regency period). It’s also a well-constructed mystery, which managed to keep me guessing until almost the end, which is a rarity.

Another plus side is the characterization. The main character, Captain Lacey, is a retired soldier who managed to only just miss Waterloo. He comes with so much baggage it could cover a whole day’s worth at Waterloo station, but all of it is well done, up to and including the fact that he recognizes his condition, calling it melancholia, which is appropriate for the time. His former commander and former best friend is somewhat sketchy, but the real best friend, the former commander’s wife, is intriguing as a character herself, although occasionally she comes across a little too good to be true.… Daj dalje!

19.

Mar
(2012.)

Review: The Wedding Gift

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The Wedding Gift by Kathleen McKenna

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A highly enjoyable read, with a perfectly voiced narrator.

The story of a pretty working class girl who marries the prince in the shape of the son of the richest family in their small town seems like one of those overly-familiar tales that simply cannot be made fresh — but Kathleen McKenna manages to do it, and to do it well. Combining a quasi-Sotuhern-Gothic ghost story with mystery set in an abandoned mansion also sounds like something that has been done to death, but McKenna works the strands of her narrative so deftly that even the old twists seem new instead of grating.

But the best element of the book is the narrator’s voice. Leann, “the prettiest girl ever born in Dalton, Oklahoma”, takes us through the story with such authenticity that you can practically hear her drawl while reading. First person narration is not always easy to pull off, but McKenna does it with such flair that it becomes impossible to imagine The Wedding Gift told in any other way.… Daj dalje!