Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Mini-Review Roundup

Mini-Review Roundup

I read and loved The Wicked and the Just, and so I was expecting something similar here. I both did and didn't get it, but I'm very happy overall. In TW&TJ, things were brutal. I appreciated that level of in-your-face brutality that drove home the situation and made it feel palpable. This book is much more middle grade and so it wasn't nearly as brutal.

Instead, what this evoked was Little House on the Prairie, and I mean that in a good way. It had adventure and the excitement of traveling into the untamed unknown. It had the warmth of family, friendship, dreams, and belonging. It had the hardscrabble disappointments and learning how to live in a new environment. It had scenery and a sense of place. It had so many things I love and I'm so glad I read it.

I loved the first book in this series, put down the second one (I'll finish it, it's just... Henry III is annoying) and so I thought I'd jump ahead to this book and learn more about one of my favorite kings (Edward I), one of my least favorite kings but exciting time periods (Edward II), and a king I know little about (Edward III). I got about as much as I was expecting: A fun and engaging narrative from an author I like a whole lot.

The Edward I part was fun, but left me wanting as it focused far more on William Wallace and the Scottish squabbles and not nearly as much as I wanted on Edward the man and his family. That's to be expected, but ever since reading (and absolutely loving) Cashelmara I've been pining for another book that focuses on the people.

The Edward II part was also to be expected. Solid. The Edward III part was interesting and gave me a lot more insight into The Black Prince, who has always been this figure of legend and not much substance to me. Joan the Fair Maid of Kent, John of Gaunt, and Alice Perrers all made appearances, naturally, and they all took on a little more shading and depth than my cursory knowledge up to this point. It also, of course, gave more insight into Edward III himself, though he still feels more shadowy. I almost feel like I know the other players more. Perhaps I'll try to find a historical fiction book that puts some personality into his character.

I still wasn't sure if I was going to continue with this series right away, but it tugged at my mind and I decided to continue on with the third book. It was...mostly as good as the first two. This one felt a little disjointed. The first part of the book was the same pattern as the first two books and I enjoyed it. Then she finally went to America and I lost steam. The new group of characters didn't grab me the way the old bunch did and I couldn't help but feel like her whirling adventure around the US was a distraction from what I really wanted to read, which was her life with her family, friends, and foes in England. It wasn't bad, but I wasn't nearly as into it as I was previously and it was easy to put the series down after this book. I still want to read the final book, but I don't feel the need to do so any time soon.

The Lady of the Lakes: The True Love Story of Sir Walter Scott

I absolutely adore Kilpack's book A Heart Revealed. I keep reading her other books in the Proper Romance series hoping to hit gold again, but every other book I've read has been just okay. This one included. I did not really like the main character and the story with his love interests was predictable and tortured in the execution. I mean, it wasn't bad and I think if a reader clicks with Walter then they'll enjoy it more than I did. It wasn't badly written, but I really disliked Walter and Mina and their parts were so long and so predictable. I did like Charlotte, but even her charm couldn't balance out the Walter and Mina parts enough to save this one for me. I own a print copy of this book, but I'll be passing it on.  

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