ARC, Historical Fiction, Romance

A Dangerous Legacy – Elizabeth Camden

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I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers for a free eBook copy in exchange for an honest review.

Going into this book I was not sure what to expect. This is the first Elizabeth Camden novel that I have had the pleasure of reading and it will not be my last. The authors ability to infuse a story surrounding intrigue, danger, and New York, with an accurate and exciting historical narrative caught me from the very beginning.

Camden is excellent in her dialogue, characterization, and her story telling is unparalleled when it comes to discussing the nuances of life in the early twentieth century. A strong, resourceful heroine, Lucy, who does not mind working and fights for the rights of the poor, an excellent brother/sister connection which only pulls me farther into the story, and an interesting look at a time where modern technology was only just being introduced, and the problems that come from that. Sometimes historical fiction can be burdensome with small details and references that I am not educated about, but A Dangerous Legacy gave just enough information about telegraphers and the inner working of twentieth century plumbing to keep me interested. Not to mention the inevitable romance, that does not feel forced, or rushed in any way between Lucy Drake and Sir Colin Beckwith.

Lucy and her brother Nick Drake, as part of the ‘family business’ after their father passes away, are drawn into a forty year old legal battle, at the hands of their rich uncle, Thomas Drake; the case, fought by two warring brothers, tells the tale of an invention of a water valve that can provide running water inside houses. The Drake siblings, not nearly as well off as their uncle who lives as Lord in a manor in a nearby town, scrape by in their small Greenwich Village apartment. The legal battle does not just test them physically, but the Drake siblings fight to honor their fathers memory and his vision. Since Nick is a plumber by occupation, he aims to use this valve to bring running water to the tenements at a fraction of the city cost.

In tandem with this overarching plot, we see Lucy’s experience with Reuters Agency, her job as a telegraph operator, and her ongoing relationship with Colin Beckwith. Here Camden shines as well with her ability to write historical fiction; she interestingly explains the history of Morse Code, Lucy’s job as a telegraph operator, and even discusses homing pigeons. The world Camden spins around Lucy and Colin is so exciting and important to the overall story. Lucy’s job, and her relationship with Colin, gives her the experience needed to help the Drake siblings fight the battle and help restore their fathers vision. With a few twist and turns thrown in there for good measure!

Camden excels at being nuanced and complex. Her character and world building, interspersed with accurate historical fiction and subtle religious themes help make this book a 4.5 stars for me. Add in the mystery and suspense, as well as a lovely romance plot and this book has everything going for it. While not what I usually read, I was surprised to find that I loved it so much. Will once again be picking up any Elizabeth Camden books in the future.

 

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Fantasy, LGBT+, Young Adult

Carry On – Rainbow Rowell

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“I am going to die kissing Simon Snow. Aleister Crowley, I’m living a charmed life.”

 I had heard about this book through BookTube, and other various media platforms and knew that since I had read previous books from Rainbow Rowell, that I would probably come to love this one as well. And I wasn’t wrong. Carry On is able to walk the fine line between tropes, as well as throwing in some amazing homages to the likes of Harry Potter and satirical nods to our favourite books such as Twilight. “I know what you are“… yes I bet you do, Simon.

I found this book so cute and the relationships between Simon, Baz, Penny, and Agatha to be absolutely realistic and mesmerizing. It made me laugh, it made me sad, and it made me cheer for these young people on their quest to solve a murder, and a growing threat from an unknown power, the Humdrum.

The nod to Harry Potter was subtle and gave me just enough of a nostalgia kick without going overboard. And as a self-professed lover of fanfiction (*ahem*and writer of it*ahem*), I loved the cute tropes that are present and beloved in some of the best fanfiction out there. ‘The Chosen One’ – trope, for example, is not one that I usually gravitate towards but I loved the twist on it, and the story that accompanied how the chosen one was meant to be.

Also, rarely do we see LGBT+ characters in mainstream novels, and I am so glad to have found one that aims to bring these lovely characters into the spotlight. I would have preferred a bit more information delving into the characters complex backgrounds and upbringings (specifically Simon), and his growing acceptance of his own fluid sexuality, but the discussion is good to have and I’m glad to see this in more mainstream media as the years go by.

My only gripe with the novel, is that I would have loved a more detailed description of the actual school itself. I always loved reading about Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and the classes that they went to. I am also aware that this is one book, instead of seven, and so some background needed to be cut in order to focus more on the characters and their interactions.

I loved this book, and gave it 4.5 stars. Any suggestions for books that are similar to this, feel free to let me know!

Middle Grade, Zombies

Zombie Elementary – Howard Whitehouse

Howard Whitemore - Zombie Elementary
Tundra Books, a division of Random House of Canada Ltd.

“NNGAARRRGGGGHHH!!!!”

I must preface this by saying that I am not the target audience of this book. By far. Despite this, I loved this quick, entertaining read and I thank Tundra Books for approving my request for an e-book ARC. 

The reader is introduced to Larry Mullet, a fourth grader… and a zombie hunter. When weird things start to happen at Brooks Elementary, Larry and his friends must come to the rescue of the town, because the adults are seemingly oblivious to the entire debacle. The story is told from Larry’s POV, interspersed with random interview snippits between Larry and Kyle and hilarious “Zombie Tips”.

The characters were all very realistic and immediately brought me back to my elementary school days. I could immediately remember a person from my past who fit the description of nearly every person in this book with startling clarity. The nostalgic feeling, and the instances of humour that made me laugh out loud really made this a fun read. Then we add in zombies, hilarious zombie tropes, references to almost every amazing zombie movie… and Chuck. Love. Him. I feel like these references were added into the book by the author in case an adult or older child/teen had picked up this book out of curiosity. The younger demographic would come to know these movies and tropes later on in life but I found them to be a great addition and make this a book that almost anyone could read and find hilarious.

My only “issue” with the book was resolved as I read. I initially was put off by the idea that every adult in the town would be so oblivious to the zombie issue, however, I suspended my disbelief and replaced it with an understanding of what Howard Whitehouse was trying to do. The very hush hush kids are the only ones with imaginations who could see beyond rationalizations became a very prominent trope as I continued to read… and it made total sense by the end. You could almost believe that the kids were making everything up. Which I loved.

In the end, I gave this book 4/5. It is a book that I would highly recommend, and not just to the kids in my life. Anyone with an interest in zombies, humour, or even baseball, would get a kick out of this book.

Zombie Elementary is available to purchase online or in store September 9th, 2014.

 

Chick Lit

Attachments – Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell - Attachments

“Every woman wants a man who’ll fall in love with her soul as well as her body.” – Attachments

What a cute and quirky novel, a chick-lit written from a male perspective that didn’t seem trite or overdone. The reader is introduced to Lincoln, a tank of a man who is still suffering from a breakup that has severely impacted his life. Despite his numerous degrees, he ends up taking an entry level job as an email monitor for a newspaper company, his job to send out warnings if emails violate the company policy. It is there that we are introduced to the two female coworkers, Jennifer and Beth, and it is there that we fall in love with them. And, as you will see, Lincoln does too.

Rainbow Rowell’s ability to construct a female relationship is, honestly, like a tall glass of water on a hot day. I greatly enjoyed reading about two women who seem to love and respect each other, and, while the BFF relationship is not completely perfect and sing song, it is what I believe to be about as true to a real life BFF scenario than many other books out there.

I gave this book 3.5/5 stars instead of the 4-4.5 stars I felt it deserved as I was reading it because of one pretty big issue I had with it. The characters were so real and relatable that I had a hard time believing the ending. While Beth starts to fall for Lincoln after surreptitious glances and a kinda stalkerish tendency to follow him home, Lincoln falls in love with her mind through the emails he reads between Beth and Jennifer. And, up until 93% of the book was read, these two characters had not even met yet, although the last 7% has them falling in love for each other and admitting their feelings… which I found to be a very rushed ending. While I don’t doubt that they were meant to get together and stay together, to go from practically strangers to admitting pretty serious feelings in the span of only a few pages seemed a little too unbelievable for my tastes.

Although this book has its flaws, I highly recommend you check it out and the other books by Rainbow Rowell. I know I will be.

Happy Reading!