Tag Archives: review copy

Guns of Liberty by Jamie Mauchline

Guns of LibertyGuns of Liberty by Jamie Mauchline

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a review copy of this from Book Sirens.

I find the older I get, the less forgiving I am of fantasies that take a long time, if they ever do, to provide the context and framework of the universes in which the fantasies take place. That’s one reason I still have not finished Neuromancer…(that and sometimes neologisms annoy me.) Despite the breakneck pace of this debut novel, the pretty much nonstop action needed quite a bit of description, but Mauchline doesn’t really provide that framework and context of that universe. Hints are teased and spread over that action. Just what is an Inquisitor in this world? What is the religion, and the dynamic of the Liberty Empire? Oh, some things are clear – flintlocks (and revolvers), cannons, airships, and…radio? Airships captained like a Hornblower novel or a Sabatini novel, with excellent sailing details that are nonetheless a wee distorted because …well, no ocean. Mauchline has a grasp of what it takes to man a cannon, and the damage balls can do, but the (anti)hero ship gets repaired rather quickly.

I don’t think the characters develop enough, nor that world. Nor the backstory, but… it is still quite engaging and I understand there will be at least another book. I look forward to more background next time, and appreciate the opportunity to read a review copy of this one.

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Legacy by Michelle E. Lowe

LegacyLegacy by Michelle E. Lowe

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received an electronic review copy of this from the publisher through Book Sirens in exchange for a review. Disclosure: I like visual steampunk – creations of a largely amateur following (though there are some that are quite professional in their imagining), and haven’t been too moved by movies or shows that purport to be steampunk. I’ve listened to and acquired some of a taste for the aural incarnations of genre. What I find lacking is written forms that I can enjoy. So I requested this because the description called it “An unforgettable steampunk fantasy novel set in Victorian England.” Well… I must have missed something because there were only slight hints at steampunk. Fantasy? Yes. Steampunk? Not really.

I did not know this was published in 2016, but that’s the copyright on my review copy, though on Goodreads, there is a note of “first published March 16th 2015”. When I logged it, I saw “The Legacy #1”. Turns out there are five more in the series (so far?) This is good because I found this one to be a little light. Light on the fantasy, though better than average on the story. And I thought it was light on development and backstory. At times it seemed as though I’d missed a first book, but that would be this, so that wasn’t it. [As a rule, I don’t like to summarize fiction in my reviews because I don’t want to spoil for any potential reader. There are usually plenty of plot summaries out there is one is so inclined.] The villain is over the top without that backstory, and the fantasy elements are few. Some are so vague – I expect those to be resolved in the sequels, but if a reader didn’t want to continue? There was a surprise that was completely unanticipated…I’ll leave it for the reader to learn when it appears.

[Edit: I forgot to mention…]…there are some alternate history items that are interesting to me. Enough said there.

So…not what I expected, not as advertised (I do not know if that was publisher blurb or some reviewer who really doesn’t know steampunk), but intriguing and engaging enough that I will check out the next. I appreciate the opportunity to review.

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Surrealism: Inside the Magnetic Fields by Penelope Rosemont

Surrealism: Inside the Magnetic FieldsSurrealism: Inside the Magnetic Fields by Penelope Rosemont

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read a book on “the making of an art historian”, then read Peter McGough’s memoirs of an artist in the 1980s, (he covered more years than that) and this popped up as a recommendation. I have an affinity to surrealism in the visual art form (more on non-visual below…), being partial to Magritte and Dali especially, so I requested a review copy of this, which was granted by the publisher through Edelweiss.
I guess I need to read more about surrealism because I had a hard time buying some of her narrative. Living with an artist, knowing many artists, even engaging with many artists over the past decade, politics is always present, but I’ve never thought it drove an entire genre. I may be wrong, but my inner primitive brain tells me no. I think Ms. Rosemont trafficked in anarchical circles and just happened to art at surrealism as well. Continue reading

Appeasement: Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill, and the Road to War by Tim Bouverie

Appeasement: Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill, and the Road to WarAppeasement: Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill, and the Road to War by Tim Bouverie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This might be my last review of a book received through the discontinued Penguin Books First to Read program. I requested 29 since 2015 and was selected for 19 (I might read one more that I was not selected for, thus the “might”) and I appreciate the opportunities.

Bouverie has composed an incredibly thorough relation of a narrow history of a particular time for a particular country, and particular players and their particularly disastrous choices of action. His political journalist chops are apparent…his research is extensive. For a reader not of his country, the insights were well received, including the acerbic observations throughout (on the future Edward VIII and his hands off opinion, Bouverie said “[l]acking intelligence and a sense of constitutional propriety, the Prince made his views clear …”) There are lessons here that are not being heeded in the country of this reader. I may draw crosshairs for finding parallels in a particular political party’s appeasement of the heinous actions and comportment of the current (as of this writing) elected executive. There are other observations that parallel today; one being:

I have the impression that the persons directing the policy of the Hitler Government are not normal. Many of us, indeed, have a feeling that we are living in a country where fanatics, hooligans and eccentrics have got the upper hand.
– British Ambassador to Berlin [Sir Horace Rumbold] to the Foreign Secretary [Sir John Simon], June 30, 1933

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