Book 375: The Scourge of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #3) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Scourge of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #3)I loved this series and it’s kind of obvious in that I read it in less than five days. I would’ve read it faster, but pesky work and being somewhat sociable got in the way. I’m glad I read the series, as it gave me three squares on my BOTNS Bingo card so I at least feel like I made an effort! Plus having read the first few paragraphs of this and learning the publishing history behind this series, I’m glad I gave it a chance because of my women with weapons are awesome mindset.

Picking up where The Blight of Muirwood left off there is no downtime in this novel; here is no year of discovery or growth off the pages. It may as well be part two of book two and that works really well for this series, and that could answer what it is about the middle book of this trilogy being so good.

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Book 374: The Blight of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #2) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Blight of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #2)This is just one of those series I’m going to BLAZE through. It’s good because it gets my Goodreads “challenge goal” count up, but it’s even better because it’s so enthralling that I can’t put it down!

I’ll start with what’s great about this novel. Wheeler wrote at the end of the novel that he loves middle novels in trilogies and that he thinks they are often times the strongest. For me, I generally do NOT like the middle novel and dread reading them as I feel they’re often the weakest. I’m still trying to figure this out, but Wheeler was able to keep the crescendo building from The Wretched of Muirwood and I cannot wait to see where he takes it in the last book of the Legends of Muirwood trilogy, The Scourge of Muirwood.

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Book 373: The Wretched of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #1) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Wretched of Mirwood (Legends of Mirwood #1)I don’t know why I bought this book in December of 2013, but I am SO glad that Books on the Nightstand Bingo encouraged me to read it! (It’s the square with an author who shares my name – I’ve already re-read Chaucer and most everyone spells my name Jeff anyway.)

I’d been making my way through Not Gay on my iPad and didn’t want to take it to the beach, so I pulled this up on my Kindle and was absorbed within minutes. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is exactly that pulled me into the book so quickly. Wheeler writes incredibly smoothly (and apparently this is a young adult novel), but he also write characters that pull you into the story. Where I think he really excels is in the world building.

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Book 348: In Youth Is Pleasure & I Left My Grandfather’s House – Denton Welch

Welch, Denton - In Youth is Pleasure & I Left My Grandfather's HouseThe publisher, Open Road Integrated Media, reached out to me with this book as I’d previously read Jane Bowles’ Two Serious Ladies, and she is even mentioned in this work.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hesitant at first as Bowles’ work was very well written but I just didn’t like the characters. Thankfully, Welch’s characters were a bit more accessible for me. This is two shorter stories (Amazon link) so I’ve separated my response into two parts. The publisher provided a copy of this book and I received no compensation for my honest opinion.

The one over-arching them the two pieces have in common is the idea of sexuality, specifically homosexuality, before it was commonly talked about and/or accepted. I tried (aka did a brief google search) to find out about Welch’s sexuality, but again this was a long time ago before our out and proud mantras of today. Welch died young, he was only 33, and there is only speculation outside of his written works which in today’s society seem pretty explicit. Regardless, I enjoyed both of these snippets of the past for completely different reasons.

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Book 340: Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2) – Rachel Hartman

Hartman, Rachel - Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2)Ever since I read Seraphina back in 2012, I’ve been patiently waiting to the conclusion of her story! It was well worth the wait and I couldn’t be happier about this book. I received a copy from the publisher in return for my honest opinion, and honestly, it’s EXCELLENT!

I wasn’t sure how Hartman would go about improving on the story (Amazon link), but she definitely did. She made it more inclusive, more exciting and a lot more enthralling. I have no idea how she did this, apart from taking almost three years, but it was definitely worth the wait. I know I talked about her amazing story telling and character building in my response to Seraphina, but Hartman brought it to a new level in Shadow Scale. If anything, I wish the book were longer to flesh out more of the “grotesques” and what happens after the story ends.

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Book 338: Tender as Hellfire – Joe Meno

Meno, Joe - Tender as HellfireI first encountered Joe Meno way back in 2011 when I read The Boy Detective Fails, which was a wonderfully quirky story. That following October at the 2011 Boston Book Festival I picked up this novel and it’s taken me almost four years to get to it. I’d love to say it was worth the wait, but I’m not really sure and that had very little to do with Meno’s writing or storytelling (Amazon link).

This was by far one of the worst copy edited books I’ve ever read. I found a mistake about halfway through (see photo at the end) and then I found them on every two-to-three pages after that. They weren’t even minor comma mistakes, which I’d miss, they were WHOLE WORDS MISSING FROM SENTENCES!

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Book 327: What Matters in Jane Austen? – John Mullan

Mullen, John - What Matters in Jane AustenNeither a bad end to 2014, nor a bad start to 2015, this was well worth the read. It wasn’t all I thought it would be, but considering it was a galley I got ages ago (2012 I think) and never read (Sorry!) I’m glad I finally read it. I think I’m going to spend a lot of time with Austen this year. A few friends and I are doing a Jane Austen book club and I have quite a bit of non-fiction I’m looking forward to reading about Austen and her life. I hope everyone sticks with me throughout! I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and received nothing in return for my honest response.

What worked best for this book was the selecting of 20 themes and then talking about them across Austen’s novels. I’ve read all of her novels at least once and a few of them much more. You can look at the chapter titles to see the themes, but the ones that stood out most to me where when Mullan spoke about Austen’s mastery of novels and groundbreaking skills as a writer.

“She did things with fiction that had never been done before. She did things with characterization, with dialogue, with English sentences, that had never been done before.”

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