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Ali C

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A Slim Green Silence
A Slim Green Silence
Price: £6.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and unflinching story about death and life in a small town, 6 April 2015
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"It's difficult when you're trying to put a picture across to somebody else. So many things happen at once. It’s up to you to choose which details to include, how to arrange them so whoever’s listening can join the dots for themselves. It’s in your power to make another person see what you want them to see."

Connie isn't an instantly likeable narrator - you can imagine that she's been described as "difficult" her whole life - but she's totally honest about her flaws, and this book doesn't go in for hand-wringing about how she should have been better to the people in her life. It's a much more human and realistic look at her life and relationships, and her dry humour and honest reflection on her life ultimately make her a very sympathetic narrator.

Sometimes the structure was a bit confusing, with the narrative jumping between past and present, but the fragmented flashback structure is compelling, even though there are few great twists or surprises - rather gradually developing realisations which led to a satisfying conclusion.

Some of the characters felt hard to get a handle on. Harry is an example of this for me: I spent the whole book feeling like I didn't really understand him, although I had a lot of sympathy for him by the end. The Boatman is deliberately enigmatic, but the story of his death towards the end of the novel didn't feel fully developed, and I wasn't sure how to make sense of it in relation to the story as a whole. On the whole, though, the characters are convincing and engaging. The setting is also very vividly described, and as much a character as any of the human (or indeed animal) characters in the book. Scheepersdorp is described in loving detail, and it really creates a sense of the ups and downs of life in a small South African town.

By the time I finished this book, I was in tears. It was incredibly moving, without being at all corny or sentimental. It stares death and all the twistiness of human relationships in the face without blinking. Really lovely.


The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike Book 2)
The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike Book 2)
Price: £4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, but likeable, 18 Aug. 2014
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Disappointing. I really enjoyed Cuckoo's Calling, but this wasn't nearly as good. I did enjoy reading it and it was fairly compelling, but the plotting was weak and the story took a long time to get going. It also felt overwritten, which is pretty typical of her style, but I was especially aware of it here.

I was particularly frustrated with how uncritically sexist and regressive it was, and that spoiled a large part of the book for me.

I nevertheless can't help liking Strike, and I like Robin too; so I wish she had more of a role and a personality.

I will definitely still be reading the next one - but hoping for a return to the strengths of Cuckoo's Calling.


His Wayward Duchess (The Lady Adventuress Book 1)
His Wayward Duchess (The Lady Adventuress Book 1)
Price: £2.10

4.0 out of 5 stars A Charming Historical Romance with a Delightful Heroine, 18 Aug. 2014
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I was surprised by how charming I found this.

It takes a really unusual structure for a romance novel, which took some getting used to - the hero and heroine are married before the first chapter, which establishes quite an unusual dynamic. For quite a substantial portion of the book, the romance actually seemed to play a background role. I don't think I would see that as a weakness, but I can see that for some readers it might be.

I also felt like the story took a while to take shape - however, once it did, it was delightful. I loved Holly and Lady Louisa, and I was very happy for so much of the book to be about their friendship and about Holly learning to act as the Duchess of Strathavon, learning to navigate society, and learning to become herself.

I would go so far as to call this a feminist novel - Holly is such a lively character, and I kept being afraid that she was have to take a fall for being so daring, even to the point of being outrageous, but the author treats her with kindness throughout. She's bold, big-hearted and independent, and she doesn't have to suffer for it and "learn her place", like many heroines do. She felt to me like a very modern heroine, but I trust the author's clearly extensive historical knowledge implicitly, so she doesn't feel anachronistic.

Strathavon himself could maybe have been more fleshed out, but I had sympathy for him and ultimately found him quite charming. I felt that his character was sympathetically painted, and I appreciate the fact that, although he was clearly a powerful figure, he didn't feel the need to exercise that power by exerting dominance over his wife.

I'm a big fan of the Lady Adventuress and I look forward to her next adventures.


From Fairies and Creatures of the Night, Guard Me: An Anthology (The Annwn Cycle Book 1)
From Fairies and Creatures of the Night, Guard Me: An Anthology (The Annwn Cycle Book 1)
Price: £2.11

4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent first collection, 9 Mar. 2014
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I'd read the author's historical romances, and was interested to see her writing in another genre.

This is an excellent first collection of short stories. De Courcy obviously has a real love of fantasy, and her writing is clever and on point, whether serious or humorous. Her language is rich but not inaccessible, although I sometimes felt it could be a little flowery and old-fashioned. It works in the context of a fantasy world, but it still stood out to me from time to time.

I particularly like her characters. For the most part, they're relatable, normal people, which is always refreshing in fantasy. Penny is especially great - she's smart and no nonsense, and I love her interactions with the Erlking.

The stories are really unpretentious and entertaining, and I'll definitely be on the lookout for more from De Courcy.


The Glass God (Magicals Anonymous Book 2)
The Glass God (Magicals Anonymous Book 2)
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my favourite, 23 Sept. 2013
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I love Kate Griffin's writing and her conception of magic, but this book might have been my least favourite so far. It was fun and the characters were likeable, but I battled to get really immersed in the story. On the one hand, it's refreshing to have realistic dialogue - as a 20-something, I felt like everyone, you know, spoke like me, yeah? But on the other hand, I felt that a lot of the characters didn't have distinct voices. I really want to love Sharon, and I do like her, but after two books I still feel like I'm trying to make sense of her as a character. I'll definitely keep reading the series, but so far I much prefer the original Matthew Swift books.


The Scoundrel's Secret Siren (Dastardly Lords Book 1)
The Scoundrel's Secret Siren (Dastardly Lords Book 1)
Price: £2.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A charming romance with a plucky heroine, 23 Sept. 2013
I enjoyed this book even more than I enjoyed Daphne du Bois's first novel. The research was really thorough (I learned a few new words!), which helped to create a believable setting and atmosphere. I loved Lorelei and her adventurous spirit, and the earl grew on me the more I learned about him. My one criticism is that I felt the tension between them took a while to be properly established. I would have liked to have more of a sense of the connection between them earlier on. Still, great fun to read and I really enjoyed it!


The Rogue's Reluctant Rose
The Rogue's Reluctant Rose
Price: £2.28

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Regency Romance, 27 Mar. 2013
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A quick and enjoyable read. I found Araminta's struggle to choose between love and social necessity very compelling in its historical context, and, like her, I found myself ultimately won over by Chestleton. I found his characterisation to be particularly well done, and his character development over the course of the book makes him a believable and winning hero. I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in Regency romance.


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