Miss Kate’s CBRV review #5: Midwife of the Blue Ridge, by Christine Blevins

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Given my obsession with the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, I pretty much jump when I see any books about 18th century Scotland/Scottish immigrants. I picked this book up hoping to get a taste of some bodice-ripping, witch-cursing colonial goodness before Gabaldon’s next book comes out. I was’t too disappointed with Midwife of the Blue Ridge. While it’s not a great book, it is fun.

The book’s description says that “As the lone survivor of an attack on her village, she is thought to be cursed…she hopes to escape the superstitions of the old country…” This all happens within the first couple of chapters, and then we never again hear of her being considered a witch. Maggie is a young Scottish midwife who signs herself into indentured servitude in America. She arrives in 1763, around the time of the Native American uprising known as Pontiac’s War.

Maggie’s feisty, she’s gorgeous, she catches the eye of all the red-blooded men in the colony. There are your usual characters: the folksy settlers, the super hot frontiersman who is afraid of marriage (of course), and the rich, titled, dissipated fop (read: villain). There are war parties, kidnappings, settler being thrown off their land, etc. Through it all, Maggie keeps her chin up. 

There was nothing really surprising in this book, no plot twists that I didn’t see coming (ok, maybe a couple). But it’s a fun, escapist read.

Read more reviews at misskatesays.com: http://misskatesays.com/2014/01/03/miss-kates-cbrv-review-5-midwife-of-the-blue-ridge-by-christine-blevins/

Miss Kate’s CBRV review #4: Lorna Doone: A Romance Of Exmoor, by R.D. Blackmore

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I read Lorna Doone as part of my effort to read more of the classics, and I’m glad I did. This is the late 17th century in England, a time of political and religious strife. Charles II has just reclaimed the throne after years of exile.

Told in the first person, it is the story of John Ridd, a simple farmer living in Exmoor with his mother and sisters. Nearby live the outlaw clan the Doones. The Doones had once been wealthy nobles, but had lost their title and lands due to a lawsuit, and have since taken up banditry. John is a young boy when his father is murdered by them during a highway robbery. The Doones live in a heavily guarded valley and are pretty much untouchable.

One day, while out hunting, young John meets Lorna Doone. (She was kidnapped as a little girl and raised as a Doone.) Over the years they meet in secret, and fall in love. Eventually she tells John that she is slated to marry Carver Doone, the son of the Doone leader and a pretty bad guy. The Doones will then take her inheritance. As their romance matures, John becomes determined to save Lorna from her wicked family.

The story starts off slow, but builds and becomes exciting in parts. There is love, loss, battle scenes. Lorna Doone has never been out of print, and it’s easy to see why. The writing is extremely Victorian – Blackmore suffers in some parts from excessive wordiness, and his female characters are a bit one-note. Frankly, I found Lorna herself to be somewhat of a simpering bore. But as a modern kid of girl, I can’t expect a 19th century male author to share my sensibilities!

Where Blackmore’s writing shines, though, is in his descriptions of country life. Taking into account the upheaval in England during the Industrial Revolution, the author’s love of nature and the older ways of doing things are evident on every page. (Now I want to re-read Middlemarch.) Lorna Doone is not a quick beach read, but it’s a good one!

Read more reviews at misskatesays.com: http://misskatesays.com/2014/01/03/lorna-doone-a-romance-of-exmoor-by-r-d-blackmore/

Miss Kate’s CBRV Review #3: Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent

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Set in 1820s Iceland, Burial Rites is a novel based on the true story of Agnes Magnusdottir. In 1829, she was executed for a double homicide, the last person to be so sentenced in that country.c

At this time, Iceland is a backwater, provincial outpost whose officials have to answer to Copenhagen. There is no prison, so Agnes is sent to a farm to wait out her sentence. It’s a lonely place, and the family with whom she is staying (understandably) distrust her. She becomes close with the young clergyman sent to prepare her soul for the afterlife, and eventually, heartbreakingly, her full story comes out. As we hear of Agnes’ life, you get the sense that in this time and place, a woman like her never had a chance and that her fate was probably inevitable.

Burial Rites is not just the story of Agnes, though. It is rich with a sense of time and place, the descriptions of the stark Icelandic landscape vivid. We witness the effect Agnes has on those around her. As we near her execution time, the sense of dread is palpable. It’s a sad but beautifully written story.

It’s a sad, yet beautifully written story. 

http://misskatesays.com/2014/01/03/miss-kates-cbrv-review-3-burial-rites-by-hannah-kent/

 

Badkittyuno’s #CBR5 Review #101: Broken Harbor by Tana French

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Well, I didn’t hit the double cannonball like I’d hoped, but I got close. My last book of the year was Tana French’s Broken Harbor, and like all of her (loosely-connected) thrillers, it rocked.

Broken Harbor features stars Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy, who was featured in Faithful Place as well, though to a lesser degree. Scorcher is investigating the stabbing of a family in an unfinished subdivision in Ireland — the two children and their father were killed, the mother was left for dead. And some fairly creepy evidence was left behind.

What I like about French’s novels is that there as much about the detective(s) investigating as they are about the crime committed. Scorcher is a very interesting character, with a troubled family history including a rather loony sister. He’s training a new detective on this case, and his relationship with this man who is not really a partner affects the investigation in several ways.

The crime element is pretty good, too. Lots of twists and turns. And French is a very good writer, especially when it comes to dialogue. The Irish accents are practically audible.

I highly recommend French, especially The Likeness, which is still one of the twistiest things I’ve ever read.

Alli’s #CBR5 Reviews 10,11,12 – Dark Tower Completion

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Here are my final reviews for CBR5. I didn’t quite make my quarter cb goal for the year but I am excited to get started on CBR6! I will be using my twitter name this year @allibaba77 and I look forward to being a part of this wonderful community again.

I decided to compile them into one as I am not sure how much I will have to say about each one as they really do all fit together into a really long story. Of course although it doesn’t really need to be said, there will likely be spoilers so if you have not read the series and do not want to know about it then this is not the best place for you to be. Also my details might get all mixed up but that is the way things go sometimes.

Ok, so “Wolves of the Calla” really got me back interested in the story again. I enjoyed “Wizard and Glass” but it was almost entirely a flashback so I was glad to get back into our main story as that is where the heart of the tale lies. I was a bit concerned that we would never get back into our heros’ quest as this story takes us into another town, Calla Brin Sturgess where they have this unique problem where “wolves” come every generation or so and take some of their children and they are returned “roont” or ruined. Some of the citizens ask our gunslingers for help an although this aid takes up most of the book, I was glad that it really tied in well with the main story.

Read the rest on my blog

Ashlie’s #CBR5 Review 40: Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

This is the last book I read in 2013, and I’m sad to say it ended with a whimper rather than a bang. I started this book a while back, but kept putting it down. (If I start and finish a new book before finishing the one I was reading, that’s never a good sign.)

The story of a small town, murder trial, and lost love, this novel shifts between present day and the recent past on a small island off the coast of Washington after WW2. This story itself is much like the weather of the novel: cold, dreary, and laborious. For me, this was a case of using more words when fewer would do, especially in regard to setting. Also, the motivations of characters were almost telegraphed in their deliberateness and story development seemed obvious so waiting for everything to unfold was tedious. Past: boy meets girl, girl faces stark reality, boy is sad, racism towards Japanese-Americans, WW2. Present: murder trial, still racism towards Japanese-Americans. It seemed like the murder trial would at least have some intrigue but even that played out predictably.

In short: well-written and if you like lots of descriptive detail and predictable action, you might enjoy it but I was bored. But I made it to 40 books this year because if it, so woo!

Caitlin’s #CBR5 #62: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

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This is a really good book, plus one of the few that aren’t part of a series. It’s a world where water is running out. Lynn and her mother live on a farm and protect their little pond. There’s lots of action and drama. I loved how Lynn’s character changes and grows from her isolated life with her mother to her less isolated life after she ends up on her own.

Seriously, this was a great book. You can read my full review here.

Caitlin’s #CBR5 #61: Bubble World by Carol Snow

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This is an interesting book about a girl who lives on an island utopia…except it’s not what it seems. It ends up being some sort of junior matrix situation, where teenagers who have difficulty in the real world are hooked up to computers and live virtual lives. I wasn’t expecting that at all when I started the book, and it ended up being much more interesting than I thought it would be.

You can read my full review here.