White Boots by Noel Streatfeild

White BootsWhite Boots by Noel Streatfeild

My rating: 4 of 5 stars (9/10)

I’ve been wanting to reread this for a while and the ice skating at the Olympics pushed me over the edge. I finished it a while ago, but I’m late catching up on reviews at the moment.

It did send me down a rabbit hole of exactly how figure skating as represented in the book compared to what we call figure skating today. The latter grew out of the former, but as in so many sports, skating is aimed at the spectators these days and the time and precision required for actual figure skating was decided to take too long. Nowadays, all the skating we see on TV is what was considered free skating in this book. I can totally see why Harriet turned out to be the one with the skills and temperament to be a figure skater, while Lalla would shine in free skating.

This was a lovely trip down memory lane. I do still like this book very much.

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Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega, #5; Mercy Thompson World - Complete, #15)Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars (8/10)

Each year until this year, I have always bought the new books from Patricia Briggs and Anne Bishop, which both come out on the same day each March. For some reason, I got behind last year. I bought the books, but I haven’t yet read either of them. With money being on the tight side, I did the “right’ thing and cancelled my pre-orders for this year, figuring I’d buy each one when I’d read the one before.

Then I noticed that last year’s Patricia Briggs book was a Mercy Thomson book, which this one was a Charles and Anna book. While I like Mercy, she’s a long way into her series and the blurb suggested bad stuff happening to her, and I’d put off reading the book. But hey, I was up to date with Charles and Anna’s books, so why shouldn’t I just just ahead and read their book. Mindful of that budget, I put in a request with the library pretty much as soon as the book went into the catalogue, well before it was published. That meant I didn’t have to wait too long after publication to get it.

I’ve very glad I did. There are no spoilers here about Mercy’s book, beyond the fact she was rescued and Bran went to help with that. I could have figured those two things out easily on my own (and maybe, knowing Mercy is now safely rescued, it’ll be easier to go back and read her book).

Rather, this is all about goings on around Aspen Creek and by the end, I’d guess it is also a set up for a new and ongoing antagonist for future books. We are introduced to a whole new set of “broken” wolves and one delightful new character in Wellesley. All indications are that he will feature in upcoming books and I am very happy to see that happening. He’s proved to be rather awesome, and given this new adversary, he’ll probably be a powerful ally who will be needed.

This is quite a small story. It’s about introducing new things more than it is about a major adventure (although it’s a very serious problem that needs to be solved). I realised that when we were nearing the end of the book and we paused for a whole load of back story. It was very important back story, but it showed that this was the beginning of an arc, not a wrap up with an explosive and painful resolution.

Anna and Charles continue to refine their relationship and they are lovely with it. Charles and Brother Wolf have learned that they need to set Anna free to fly instead of smothering her in protection, but it is a very hard thing for them to do. There is also a very good section that shows how important it is to view survivors as the strong and powerful people they are, rather than re-victimising them by dwelling on their trauma on their behalf.

As well as Asil, insights into Bran and his marriage, traitors and betray, and at the end, what appears to have been some very bad bagpipe music.

I’m so glad I decided to jump straight into this book (I do love Anna and Charles) and I guess I need to find time to go back and read that Mercy book I still have waiting. (Oh, and the Anne Bishop one too.)

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Season of Storms by Susanna Kearlsey

Season of StormsSeason of Storms by Susanna Kearsley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars (8/10)

I’ve neglected Susanna Kearsley’s books for a while, and I find myself very glad to have got back to them. They are very much my kind of books – a modern story, an historical link with a touch of the paranormal, a light romance and a bit of a mystery to solve. They are also very, very reminiscent of Mary Stewart’s books, although those are lacking the mild supernatural/paranormal facet Kearsley tends to include.

For some reason I haven’t quite identified, this one felt even more “Mary Stewart” to me that others. I bit of that was the smoking – at least two characters here smoked regularly and that included a major plot point – which always surprises me in Stewart books where the characters tend to smoke like chimneys and I always have to remind myself they were written when that was not only acceptable but “cool”.

Season of Storms was published in 2001, but it still feels a bit more historical than that, despite the inclusion of email. The main characters still heads to a call box to make a crackly international phone call through an operator for example. I wasted a bit of time trying to figure out if the modern section was supposed to be set before it was written but eventually just went with the flow and enjoyed the story.

The paranormal here is quite light compared to some of Kearsley’s other books and it is up to the reader to decide if it is actually real or in the characters’ imaginations.

After a day’s reflection, I find I have a few issues with how things were or were not resolved (view spoiler on Goodreads), but they are authorial choices and not something to spoil the story for me.

This isn’t my favourite book by Susanna Kearsley, but it is still one I very much enjoyed.

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The Children of the Company by Kage Baker

The Children of the Company (The Company, #6)The Children of the Company by Kage Baker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars (9/10)

REREAD #1: 9 April 2018 – 14 April 2018 (9/10)

I was going to write something new and hopefully interesting here, but when I reread what I wrote in my review last time, I realised that I’ve said it already. So I’m going to be lazy and, if you’re here to discover my thoughts, I’ll just ask you to scroll down and read what I wrote last time.

ORIGINAL READ: 10 July 2007 – 11 July 2007 (9/10)

Take a ride through time with the devil. In this book of the Company series, we meet Executive Facilitator General Labienus. He’s used his immortal centuries to plot a complete takeover of the world since he was a young god-figure in Sumeria. In a meditative mood, he reviews his interesting career. He muses on his subversion of the Company black project ADONAI. He considers also Aegeus, his despised rival for power, who has discovered and captured a useful race of mortals known as Homo sapiens umbratilis. Their unique talents may enable him to seize ultimate power.
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I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this entry in Kage Baker’s brilliant series. I was expecting it to be a story told with Labienus as the protagonist (I certainly wouldn’t call him a hero) and since he’s not exactly a nice guy, or doing nice things, I didn’t have any particular need to climb inside his head.

Instead, Labienus and his machinations are the thread that holds the book together, but it is really closer to a collection of short stories that let us in on the “other side” of mysteries and events we’ve already encountered in the earlier books in the series. As such, it is totally unsuitable to be read as a book on its own, but for anyone following the tales of Dr Zeus Inc. it’s actually a brilliant addition.

Among other things, we find out what really happened to Lewis in Ireland, how Victor defeated Budu in San Franciso as the earthquake began to rumble under the ground and get another glimpse into the “childhood” of Latif. I also understand Edward a lot better than I did before. I still don’t like him, but I understand him better.

The story that caught my heart most was the one that told us what actually happened to Kalugin, who until this was missing and presumed (by the reader at least) to be the victim of foul play. Both proved to be true in a clever, sad little story. I hope Kalugin gets rescued by the end of the series, and I rather suspect he was never cut out to be an immortal. But as Mendoza’s fate has shown us, making an inappropriate person immortal is a mistake that can’t be undone.

The saddest tale is that of Hendrick Karremans, the Recombinant mentioned briefly by Joseph in The Graveyard Game, and his short life and death. It was beautifully written, narrated by Victor, who I think may prove to be more of a loose cannon than anyone suspected.

Baker has done it again, exactly when I didn’t expect her to. She writes in styles that really shouldn’t work and pulls it off. I remain entranced.

The Children of the Company
Kage Baker
9/10

[Copied from LibraryThing.]

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The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan

Voyage of the Basilisk (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #3)Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars (9/10)

I’m slowly working my way through this series and enjoying myself as I do so. I’ve bought them in paper copies for the pretty covers and inside illustrations and it’s also a nice change to read a paper book – although with my sore and tired arms, reading on my Kindle is easier, so I do have to ration them.

I don’t know that I’d consider this series of books to be blow-me-away kind of stuff, but they are solid, reliably and enjoyable and I look forward to a slow reveal of the mysteries about dragons that have been building up.

This one was a little more choppy than the first two, simply because it was covering a much longer stretch of time and it still had to be fitted into approximately the same number of pages. When the action focussed closely on a certain adventure, most especially the time in Keogna (I think that’s the name without looking it up – the Pacific island analogue), it smoothed out and told and exciting tale.

I’m always a sucker for an archeological/historical mystery for the current time protagonists to solve, so that part of the story, as Isabella slowly learns more (or as it stands now, discovers more questions) about dragons and the Draconeans, gets my ears perked right up. I admit I don’t know when I’ll get to the next book, but I’m looking forward to getting closer to the solution of the mystery.

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My cover for Madam, Will You Talk?

Madam, Will You Talk?

The FitzOsbornes at War by Michelle Cooper

The FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray Journals, #3)The FitzOsbornes at War by Michelle Cooper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars (10/10)
Read: 16 June 2017 to 22 June 2016

This was really, really excellent. In fact, as I write this, I’m bumping it up from a 9/10 to a 10/10.

It was charming, grimm, lovely and devastating all at different times. Sophie remains a wonderful protagonist and her life through the war years feels very realistic as far as this reader, born so much later on the other side of the world, can tell.

Michelle Cooper has woven together real people and real history with her created places and characters expertly and she provides an afterword that explains who was real and lists a number of her sources for the historical detail.

A highly recommended book and series.

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