Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Tōru: Wayfarer Returns by Stephanie R. Sorensen

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Online Book Club provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Toru: Wayfarer Returns by Stephanie R. Sorensen

Historical Fiction/Alternate History

Tōru, a young fisherman, believes it will take nothing less than modernization, an industrial revolution, for his native Japan to defend itself against imminent invasion by the Americans. But guiding a revolution will be a challenge for Tōru when the sentence for his illegal return to Japan is death. This novel thoughtfully portrays history real and imagined, highlighting a relevant theme of social change. Oh–and the samurai. You can’t forget the samurai!

Officially reviewed at OnlineBookClub.org with a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. Take a look!

 

Advertisements
Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction, Short Stories

Out of Time by C. J. Darlington

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Out of Time by C.J. Darlington

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

A busy woman rushing to make it to Bible study, a husband and father who’s just been laid off, and a hurting teenager with a secret are all running… Out of Time, a collection of three short stories by author C. J. Darlington.

I promise I don’t only read short stories when/because I’m running short on time myself. Even though it’s convenient to get in quick reads, I appreciate the short story form for what it is, and this trio is rather good, especially the title story.

I could have cried at the end of that one. It’s not a new message or a surprising tale to me, but it’s so real. It shows how we humans are, how sometimes we really just don’t get it. But it’s a motivating story, too.

Now, while I do like author’s notes that give background or “behind the scenes” info, I can do without explanations about a story’s moral or lesson, especially the shorter a story is. I think it’s more powerful when brief and sharp fiction is left to speak for itself, and the reader will catch the message just fine.

This is my first time reading this author, and I plan on doing so again.

 

Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Ace Carroway and the Great War by Guy Worthey

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Ace Carroway and the Great War by Guy Worthey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Cecilia Carroway has become an ace pilot fighting with the Allies in World War I, but she gets shot down behind enemy lines and is taken prisoner. She and a misfit crew of other Allied prisoners will have to find a way to escape, and she’s determined to do some damage along the way in Ace Carroway and the Great War by author Guy Worthey.

Well! I wanted something different with this book, and that’s what I got: maybe a mix of alternate history and a bit of a steampunk sci-fi adventure. Can’t say I pinned down the right genres, but I thoroughly enjoyed this novella nonetheless.

It kind of reminded me of a top-notch 60s movie, The Great Escape, in some ways. There’s something old-fashioned about the style, and the story deals with a serious war without taking itself too seriously, but also without being a mere joke. I could laugh at some parts, while other parts hit me in the gut.

And as for Ace. She is one bad, bad chick. Capable, competent, compassionate, commanding. Doesn’t make a show of being arrogant, doesn’t make a show of being modest. She’s almost too perfect, but she’s got a weakness or two, and you can tell she’s human. Ace and the odd, multicultural bunch of prisoners she teams up with didn’t take long to grow on me.

Also, given that Ace is the only woman in her Allied crew, it would’ve been the “easy thing” to turn the crew’s scenario into something sexual, and I’m pretty sure the characters are aware of it, somewhere in their minds. But they don’t go there, plain and simple. This story doesn’t need it, wouldn’t have had convincing time for it anyway, so I appreciate that it wasn’t just thrown in for conspicuous kicks.

I understand there are further Adventures of Ace Carroway to come. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for ’em.

 

Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Bride Tree by JP Robinson

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Bride Tree by J.P. Robinson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution is a tale of conspiracy, divided loyalties, calamity, and sacrifice in Bride Tree, a novel by author JP Robinson.

Together with this tumultuous period in France’s history, it was this novel’s striking cover that most captured my interest. It’s mysterious, layered, and lavish, with color that pops, and the cunning stare from the notorious Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, promises intrigue. It’s a promise the author delivers on in this historical thriller. Robinson has a clear talent for weaving an intricate plot, along with a bold flair for the dramatic.

I must say, though, that it’s one of the darkest and most gruesome books I’ve ever read to the end. It’s not that I never finish books that are on the darker or heavier side, and I have a fairly high tolerance for violence, especially in thrillers and war stories. But it takes more light to better offset the darkness for me, whether it’s an inspiring mission driving the storyline, relatable characters I’m rooting for, or something in that vein.

This tale affected me as a Shakespearean tragedy would. The majority of the cast didn’t quite come to feel like real people to me, beyond being characters in a drama. Villains and vixens rather dominate the novel, and although there are moments of justice and compassion, evil and twisted schemes take up the greater share of the story and control the overall tone. There’s gallantry in the key romance, but it doesn’t feel like an equal match, as the couple’s strength is mostly one-sided. I also found the novel’s ending to be unfortunate, as after such a heavy journey, the story cuts off in the middle of action with a cliffhanger.

Nevertheless, while it’s second in the Secrets of Versailles series, I didn’t feel lost as I read it. And aside from maybe a scene or two, this dense, intense novel kept my attention all the way through.