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Book Review – Clan of the Cave Bear

Title: Clan of the Cave Bear [Earth’s Children 1]

Author: Jean M. Auel

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 512

Rating: 5 Star (4.5)

Series Review: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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Description/Synopsis:

This novel of awesome beauty and power is a moving saga about people, relationships, and the boundaries of love. Through Jean M. Auel’s magnificent storytelling we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear.

A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly–she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza’s way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge.

Review – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

This book had been on my TBR since about the time I started reading really. This is one my mum read when she was younger and she was always raving about it and telling me to read it. This however was always followed by “It took me about nine years to finish it because the start is really boring, but the end was worth it.” So as you can imagine I was curious, but also a little hesitant.

But I needed a new long audio book to listen to on my long driving trips I do every day, so I thought why not and picked it up. I am so glad I did.

My mum was right. The start of the book did have one seriously sloe part where the properties of plants was talked about for quite awhile. If I had not had the warning beforehand, and had been reading a physical copy of the book rather than an audiobook, it might have taken me an extra moment to get through it as well if at all. Maybe not nine years, but probably awhile. I think the audio aspect really helped me here, as while I was driving I could start to zone out on the road for the sections that were boring. The voice acting was also very good and easy to listen to.

The rest of the book up until the last chapter was evenly paced and was interesting the whole way. I loved the sort of old magic that came with the Clan and the way Ayla’s new worldness affected them, and her way of thinking about things conflicting with what they have taught her her whole life. Then it rushes at you at the end.

All the characters are well written, at least all the ones you deal with on a regular basis. I love Ayla, Iza, Uba, and Creb. Their family dynamic was so beautiful at times. Ayla’s relationship with the rest of the clan was strained at times but there were shining moments of glory when they accepted her. Brun was a good leading and considering their way of thinking he was very reasonable to her and his act of kindness to her at the end was lovely. Their way of thinking about women though really irritated me and it was hard for my ‘strong independent woman’ brain to swallow the more degrading parts of the book. Broud is everything I hate in someone.

The overall sort of sad tone to the book and the rush of things left me wanting to pick up the next book. I made the mistake to read goodreads reviews though and none of them are too positive and my mum never once told me to read the next one, so now I am oohing and aahing about it. One day perhaps.

If you like historical fiction, don’t mind a bit of plant talk, and are open to history with a bit of magic, I think you will really enjoy this book. The second half is beautiful, and the first half is too between the boring bits.

 

Till Next Time. . .

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Mini Mondays – The Bronze Horseman, Magonia, The Miniaturist

Title: The Bronze Horseman

Author: Paullina Simons

Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction

Length: 637

Rating: DNF

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Review – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

I got really far into this book before I dropped it. Page 440 actually. I  debated for ages whether or not just finish the damn thing because I had gotten so far into that it seemed stupid to just drop it, but in the end I decided I had better things to read and while I enjoyed some parts of this book the romance just wasn’t doing anything for me.

Yes, I know there have been big discussions on the romance in this book before, but I went in without really knowing the details and I didn’t like the romance before I got to that section of the book that caused the most outrage. I actually had only really just gotten there when I dropped it, and it was those serious bits that everyone else hated that made me drop it.

I did like the first part of this book for the most part. I really liked the war side of things and the way the people in this book had to live. While its sad I liked the bits where everyone was dying because it was a really real description of the horrors of war. Then there was the romance which at first I was not liking but wanting it to work out. We have two main characters that love each other but the guy met the girls sister first and the other sister didn’t want to upset her by taking her man so declined him, and while he is there telling her he loves her he then decides to propose to her sister so he can still be in the other girls life? Messed up. I did really love him for all the help he provided for the family in the war though and when he became a jealous, abusive arsehole out of nowhere I was done with it.

Title: Magonia

Author: Maria Dahvana

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Young Adult

Length: 309

Rating: 2.5 rounded up to 3 star

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Review – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

I’m pulling an old one out of the box for this set of mini reviews. I have notes written down for this book that I could probably stretch into a full length review but I just don’t want to spend that much time on it. It was a bloody strange book, and while I have loved other strange books this one just clearly wasn’t for me and it took me ages to even get my head around it.

I loved the idea of this book. A story about a girl who is drowning on the air she breathes, and she finds out the reason she is slowly dying due to air is because she is supposed to be living in the sky and not on earth. I liked the writing style, and I connected with some of the characters, but it just went it ways I didn’t like. In all the directions it could of gone, I don’t think this one was very successful. Some parts just went too far on the weird scale and I just sat there wondering what I just read.

Title: The Miniaturist

Author: Jessie Burton

Genre: Mystery, Fantasy

Length: 400

Rating: 2.5 rounded up to 3 Star?

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Review – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

This one is getting a mini review because I didn’t even know how to talk about it. My mum asked me how it was and my response was to groan and say slowly “It was alright.” It was really hard for me to get into this book and when i hit the 1/3 mark of this book I sent a plea out to the internet asking if it was worth continuing on with and I got quite a few responses telling me the ending was worth it so I kept going. It wasn’t really worth it.

I will admit that it did pick up towards the end. I didn’t see everything that happened coming, but I didn’t feel it really made up for the rest. The magical realism side of this book also really confused me. I didn’t really understand why it was in the book and I kept waiting for it to become a bigger part of the story but it never happened.

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Book Review – Dragonfly In Amber

dragonfly in amber

Title: Dragonfly In Amber [Outlander 2]

Author: Diana Gabaldon

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance

Length: 743

Rating: 4 Star

Series Review: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9

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Description/Synopsis:

For nearly twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones… about a love that transcends the boundaries of time… and about Jamie Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his.

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart… in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising… and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves.

Review – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

It took me forever to get through this book in audiobook form, and I enjoyed nearly every moment of it. However, if anyone is intending on doing it through audio book over a period of months, I suggest you take notes after each session because its length makes it really hard to remember many details. I apologise in advance if this review is lacking. It took me about 6 months to finish this book listening to a couple of hours a week! Also, this review is filled of spoilers. Don’t read on if you don’t want spoilers.

When it comes to writing style, there isn’t anything I can fault of Gabaldon’s writing style. I think she weaves an amazing story. All the settings are brought to life and all the characters are so detailed and have such depth.

But what the hell is with that opening.

Im not saying it was bad. It was brilliantly done. But going from one audio book to next audio book without the above synopsis I had no idea what was happening. Clair has a fully grown daughter and she has gone back to Frank to raise this daughter and Jamie is nowhere to be seen. I was so confused. I thought I had skipped a book so I stopped for ages because I could not understand what was happening. But no, it was the right book. And it took ages to go back and at least start finding anything out.

This whole book had me, because I knew something so so so sad was going to go down at the end because I knew we had to end back at the beginning. I both love and hate that. While is was not as strong for me in this book as it was in The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, I love this effect in books. When you know where you have to end, but each moment you are just dreading its approach and it doesn’t get boring.

While I did not mind the time that Clair and Jamie spent in Paris, it certainly had very interesting parts, I found this to be the part of the story that dragged the most for me. There were other parts in the rest of the book, but it is so worth getting through these dragging moments because Gabaldon just keeps throwing stuff at you left right and centre.

I adored the new character Fergus. I thought he was adorable and his relationship with both Jamie and Clair was just way too cute. They should really just adopt that kid.

But Clair and Jamie both did such stupid things in this book. I particularly wanted to murder Jamie. At the end out Outlander we find out that Clair is pregnant, and I don’t know about you but I also didn’t believe that Black Jack was dead. So when he came back I was not overly surprised. Clair makes Jamie promise not to kill him yet because she doesn’t want Frank to die and Jamie agrees. Clair also is having a difficult pregnancy and is pretty much on bed rest. But of course, Black Jack does something vile and then we find out that Jamie has run off to go kill him, despite promising Clair, basically declaring that his revenge means more to him than his family, and of course Clair has to chase after him to try and stop him. Then all hell breaks loose, and Clair looses the baby and nearly dies right along with her child.

So much of the pain in this book could have been avoided if Jamie had just used his brain. I pretty much hated him for the rest of the book. I hated Clair a bit too because she shouldn’t have gone after him, but mostly Jamie. After months and months they do end up making up, but I was so mad at Clair for forgiving him for ages. Then to top it all off she had to have sex with a disgusting man to get him out of jail for said duel with Black Jack. SO MUCH RAGE.

Fast forwarding to the end of the book, I did feel bad for Jamie when he has to kill his uncle for Clair and he gained a bit of my forgiveness back then. Then Jamie sends Clair back through the stone and we get their emotional parting, leaving us back at the start of the book. We are at the time with Geillis Duncan is in Clair’s current timeline and I thought she was going to help Clair and Jamie and somehow make it so they never have to separate and warn her so she doesn’t go off to her death but nope. They get there too late and the only thing they get out of her being in this story is that now Brianna believes her mum. I don’t know if I like Brianna or not yet, we shall see…

We go through this whole thing thinking that Jamie is dead but it turns out he isn’t. That is where it all ends. Damn cliffhangers!

Im going to leave this here. This is a very long review about my feelings regarding… mostly one thing that happened in this book, but hey, its the bits that got the most emotion from me and they cannot be expressed in little words!

 

Till Next Time…

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Book Review – The Passion of Dolssa

passion-of-dolssa

Title: The Passion of Dolssa

Author: Julie Berry

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction

Length: 271

Rating: 4 (4.5) Star

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Description/Synopsis:

Dolssa is a young gentlewoman with uncanny gifts, on the run from an obsessed friar determined to burn her as a heretic for the passion she refuses to tame.

Botille is a wily and charismatic peasant, a matchmaker running a tavern with her two sisters in a tiny seaside town.

The year is 1241; the place, Provensa, what we now call Provence, France—a land still reeling from the bloody crusades waged there by the Catholic Church and its northern French armies.

When the matchmaker finds the mystic near death by a riverside, Botille takes Dolssa in and discovers the girl’s extraordinary healing power. But as the vengeful Friar Lucien hunts down his heretic, the two girls find themselves putting an entire village at the mercy of murderers.

Review – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

I would like to thank HarperCollins Australia for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for a full review! Sorry its been a long time in the making.

While I received an ARC of this book to read i noticed that my motivation for reading wasn’t very high last year when I received this book so I went out and got myself the audio book. I loved it. I would strongly recommend this books audio version. Its super easy to listen to and has good voice actors.

There was only one thing within this book that I didn’t completely fall in love with, and that was the high religious component to the plot. I don’t remember how I came about to get this book from the publishers, I don’t remember if I asked for or if it was just sent to me, and I didn’t remember this when I listened to it either so I went into this book pretty much not knowing anything about it, and I was not overly thrilled to find out that her passion was for god. Now I don’t want to offend anyone, I have nothing against people being highly Christian or anything, but I myself am Pagan so I am not really interested in reading about that Christian faith. Other stories I have reviewed such His Dark Materials have been marked down because of the high dose of religion. BUT it is major part of the story, and the more I got into it, really the less it bothered me.

The plot of this story was just spot on. It was very dark and had some pretty gruesome parts in there while also having some lighter moments. The way it was written had me waiting on the edge of my seat and making me eager to get back into the car again or made me sit in the car longer than was necessary so that I could hear the conclusion to something. I don’t remember finding anything predictable and parts of it nearly broke my heart. Everything was beautifully described and the pictures that Berry painted with her words were spot on.

All the characters in this book are well developed and thought out. There isn’t anyone in this book for the sake of trying to move something along needlessly or that seemed pointless. They were all well developed and had a purpose and enhanced the story by them being there, whether that took the story to a happy or sad place it didn’t matter. Despite the plot being very powerful this would have to be a character driven novel because each part was decided wholeheartedly by the characters.

The characters were great by themselves but they were also great in groups. Each relationship is introduced in a sort of gentle way that by the time you are done learning about each relationship you feel as though you are part of it and it just straight up hurts when something happens to any of them. You hurt because you care about them, and you hurt for those who also love them.

Something I also noticed more when picked my ARC up for this review that I feel needs mentioning as well is that Berry did a truly wonderful and great job at researching the time period that she set the book in. There are historical notes, additional readings, and glossaries for it all in the book! I think she did such a wonderful job that if you took out the dates, people could probably still work out what time frame in history they were reading about. You can also go into it knowing absolutely nothing about the 1200s and still just know and understand and visualise everything in perfect detail. I really love when an author puts that much research into their stories.

This is where I am going to leave you for this one. This book book was surprisingly good, and had me totally hooked. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction in any regard. For those who are turned off by religious things like me, take me word for it, you wont care about it by the end. I think most people would enjoy this book, if only the word of it was out a little more.

 

Till Next Time. . .

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Book Review – The Lifeboat

the lifeboat

Title: The Lifeboat

Author: Charlotte Rogan

Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction

Length: 337

Rating: 3.5 Star rounded down to 3

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Description/Synopsis:

Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.

In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.

As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she’d found. Will she pay any price to keep it?

Review – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

“Almost unbearably exciting – you’ll gulp it down in a single sitting.” – Kate Saunders, The Times

I went into this book with great expectations. The idea of people plotting the death of each other while they sit next to them plus that blurb had me seriously thinking of a fast pace evil kind of story.

This isn’t what I got.

While it was a seriously solid story, it was really really slow. The people in the boat are stuck out at sea for three weeks. Three. We get a recap of pretty much everyday and sometimes the night as well. By day five part of me was wishing the boat would sink. There were interesting bits within the story and there was plotting a death, but I found that the book was more about Grace’s thoughts on the human condition and what being in this situation was doing to everyone. Not the actual plotting. While these thoughts are interesting, I didn’t need two weeks of them (luckily they pretty much skip the third week).

The structure of this book was pretty good up until the end where I don’t know how I felt about it. At the end of week two the boat story breaks off and goes into a few chapters on how it all plays out for Grace in court. Once this is over, we then go back and experience the rescue, then we go back to how her life turned out after the boat. While this structure thing isn’t a huge issue, I don’t understand why it was done. I found it a bit disorientating to the story. I cared more about how they all get saved than if she was going to go to jail or not.

One thing I think fell really short with the story was the characters. I felt no connection to any of them. The parts of the story and the characters I was most interested in were parts I was never going to get any answers to. I really wanted to know more about Henry, how he got Grace on the boat, and all that drama with the ships communication device and Blake and Hardie. Henry mostly though, I thought he sounded pretty interesting.

So yes, the story while interesting in the sense that it was good to see how people freak out in those situations, it dragged on for me and left out a bunch of questions unanswered. If you are interested in slow paced historical fiction with a little bit of drama, give it a go, but if not perhaps give it a miss. I fell asleep reading it a couple of times.

 

Till Next Time…