My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing.
by Sara Gruen
The prologue starts out with a sad situation. A young woman, Mairi, has lost her baby to stillbirth, and soon after learns that her husband, a soldier in WWII, is missing, presumed dead. How this ties in with the story to come will take some time to become clear, but the reveal was worth the wait.
The story mostly concerns a group of Americans: Maddie, our pov character, and her husband Ellis, plus their friend Hank. Mention is also made of Violet, Hank's girlfriend, but she is left behind as the other three cross the ocean in 1945 when WWII makes that a foolish idea, to go to Scotland to hunt for the Loch Ness Monster. Hank and Ellis are both unable to sign up with the military, one for color blindness and the other with flat feet.
Culture clash is immediate. Hank and Ellis come from well-off families and expect 'service' and luxury where the down-to-earth people one finds in a Scottish Inn expect people to look after themselves at the very least and apparently healthy young men are looked at askance if they are still civilians. The men expect 'service staff' to put their clothes away for them in their rooms. Maddie catches on and puts her own things away.
I grew to like Maddie. Her backstory comes out over the course of the story and her willingness and ability to adapt to the very different culture appealed to my sympathies. Her husband, on the other hand, is the epitome of the 'ugly American'. A spoiled brat who routinely lies to his wife and treats the locals as if he is somehow better than they are. As much as there was social stigma over divorce in those days, I was thinking halfway through that Maddie really needed to get this ill-mannered beast out of her life.
One of the things I really like about this author is that she does her research. The fine details of life in that time and place lend a sense of reality. Little things like hearing about a fever going around in Inverness or looking at the newspaper and seeing stories of decimated towns next to adverts for cold cream, showing an attitude of 'life goes on' amidst the horrors of war on home soil.
The acknowledgements at the end show that she interviewed several people about their first hand experiences, so details like the reaction when a postman brings a telegram, a sure sign that someone has died, ring true. Also the subtle implication that women tended to fall for whatever men were available at a time when most of the young, healthy men were away in battle add to the reality of a 1945 setting.
A lot of fast action comes into the last 20% or so of the book and I found it hard to put down. The emotional roller coaster left me with a book hangover I won't soon forget. There was some very descriptive sex, but somehow it didn't feel like porn. Sara Gruen has definitely made it onto my favorite authors list and I will be reading more of her books in future.
Just got back last night from visiting family over the holiday weekend. Not just Easter, but a family birthday that coincided. Did I get reading time? Not much. Caught up a little late yesterday though.
Books 1,2, & 3 from Elaine Levine's Red Team series are FREE right now on Amazon Link!
Get Yourself Some!
Ok, it's official. It's Aaronovitch's writing style that makes this series good. Just started and I'm already right back into that world, even though it's been a while since I read the first one. I'm glad I got the next couple while they were on sale. It's unusual for me to trust a series to stay good for that long.
by Jake Bible
This one is listed under both Horror and SciFi & Fantasy, but it has some very light hearted and even funny moments, albeit with a fairly dark premise. Hell has unleashed all its demons and the only thing saving humanity is a ragtag bunch of gargoyles (technically grotesques for most of them) that come to life through blood magic and guard the last cathedral sanctuary on Earth.
Human possession is common and everyone is preparing for the end of days. How cheerful. Yet the characters are quirky and bring more than a few laughs. The story is enjoyable, though heavy on dialogue and character driven with only occasional sojourns into description. I found the effects of having a stone body interesting in how it affected the characters' ability to do things and withstand assaults from the demon possessed humans, though apparently obsidian can cut stone. Flight came down to just magic. Sometimes the author has to either concede Physics or use magic.
Part two threw me a little as it started with some new characters and basically a new storyline, though set in the same time and place. Familiar characters soon joined in, but I found this part slower going than the first. It does have significant plot development though and towards the end I could see how everything fit in.
Part three is pure action, laced with testosterone poisoning. Things get a little gruesome at times and it's not for the squeamish. There were some emotional moments as well, and I found the end satisfying. Overall an enjoyable story with some original elements.
From the author's blog:
This is the time travel series I follow and highly recommend.
I'm surprised I actually finished one more this month than last. I've been out a lot and struggling for reading time. But, I finished these 4! All good, although the EMP sequel was a little slow in parts. Best read is either The Goblin Emperor or Sweet Child of Time, hard to choose between a goblin Fantasy and time travel, especially when I've invested so much of myself into this series.
I've plowed through my samples! Down to 84 now, despite constantly adding more. I'm hoping to have them cleared in the next couple of months.
It's been a good month for pure enjoyment of reading, when I've had the opportunity!
This is hilarious. I don't even know what genre to call it. I only read it because the writing style in the author's other book impressed me so much, but I had only a vague idea what it was about.
Basically you've got an American couple in the late part of WW2 and their friend, plus the girlfriend he should have married by now but he's commitment shy. Both men were rejected by the military, one is color blind and the other has flat feet.
So, they take a boat through the middle of a war to go monster hunting in Scotland! Loch Ness of course.
What's so funny is the culture. 1940s Americans with a fair bit of money used to hotel porters and desk clerks encounter remote Scottish inn with a bear of a landlord who doesn't appreciate some bloody yank pounding on his door late at night expecting 'service'. The wife is enduring holdover sea sickness and between the difference in food and the rationing, is finding it all rather a challenge.
Amazon has it listed under Historical Fiction and War. That makes sense because of the setting, but the interactions are priceless.
by Shanna Lauffey
Wow, I wasn't expecting that!
Usually when I read a long series, I start to lose interest around the fourth book. Things get samey and the later books feel like a lot of rehash. Not with this one.
Akalya had some different challenges to deal with in this 7th book, yet part of the plot tied in neatly with what has gone before. One interesting new character was introduced, but it's hard to tell if he'll make an appearance in the remaining books. I just never know quite what to expect from the next episode.
I got to see some of Akalya's past that I hope will be visited again in future books because it involves a setting that appeals to me a lot and as always, some bits of nostalgia that would appeal even to people who weren't actually there. There wasn't as much about time travel Physics as there sometimes is, but it wasn't entirely missing. Just enough questions about how things work to stimulate the thinking processes.
What strikes me about every book in this series is how I feel when I've finished. It's like I've been there myself and experienced these things, and I'm still dealing with the emotions raised from whatever situation happened. This is what makes this my favorite series, apart from just the fact that time travel is cool and the methods explained in this are close enough to plausible to suspend disbelief.
I feel like I'm still assimilating this experience, though I finished reading last night. It's going to be far too long before the next book comes out! I can't wait to see where it goes. The reappearance of one character who I thought was done has me speculating about the extent of his significance. I do love it when a book makes me think!
I have to admit that I'm finding this one tedious. I'm going to finish it no matter what, but it's so long that reading a chapter only advances 1%.