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cjhallwriter

Courtney J. Hall

I may be a historical fiction writer, but I'm a reader of just about anything you'll put in front of me.
The Lucky Ones: A Bright Young Things Novel - Anna Godbersen A fitting end to an enjoyable trilogy. I don't want to give spoilers, but readers of the first two books will, I think, be satisfied with the endings given to the main characters. In the first book the omniscient narrator (whose identity is revealed, and confirms my initial suspicions about the character) states that by the end of the summer one of the girls will be married, one will be famous, and one will be dead. This is true, but I was really surprised when I found out which girl achieved which fate.

Astrid remained my favorite character of the three girls. She did a lot of growing up in this story and I found myself alternating between panic for her and the fond irritation one might feel for a beloved friend who does everything with passion but not necessarily any foresight. Cordelia, however, stayed a bit more stagnant while at the same time rushing headfirst into situations. I realize this doesn't make much sense. But as an example, I had a hard time believing the truth of her love for Max when only weeks before she'd been in love with Thom Hale. She was supposed to be the sensible one, and while her motivations were clear, her feelings and her reactions to them made Cordelia the girl I found most difficult to believe. Letty stayed in character and was both too stupid and too annoying for words. Again, no spoilers, but if you're anything like me you'll want to throw the book against the wall when her big climax comes. (And that's not a slam against the book, by any means - you just won't be able to believe how incredibly naive she was. I saw it coming from a mile away.)

The 1920s is my favorite era in American history (actually, it's the only era of American history I enjoy - the rest bores me to tears) and so few writers use it, so I was ecstatic to come across this trilogy. I'm sad to see it end.
The Taker - Alma Katsu I see a lot of people comparing this book to Interview With The Vampire. That's a fair comparison, in the way the story is told. But I don't see it as a shortcoming. I liked this book. It kept me turning pages, and in the end, that's what it's all about - isn't it? The characters, despite their unrealistic circumstances, were real and flawed. Yes, Jonathan was kind of gross and definitely undeserving of Lanny's centuries-long devotion, but really, who among us hasn't been there? Who hasn't spent valuable time pining after the guy who gave us just enough to keep coming back despite all of the other crystal-clear evidence that he was never going to give us what we wanted? It can't just be me. But those experiences helped me relate to Lanny and understand, if not approve of (distant observer that I was) the choices she made.

The book wasn't perfect, of course. Considering Lanny's Puritanical upbringing, I found it really hard to believe that though her childhood village thought she'd become a prostitute they welcomed her back with little more than a few sideways glances. (Of course, in a book about an ancient alchemist who can switch bodies and grant immortality, this probably shouldn't have tripped me up, but it did.) And when we meet Lanny, she has just killed Jonathan, and by the end of the book, only a day or two has passed since then. But when she flashes back to it, we're told it was one month earlier. Maybe I missed something. Or maybe the editor did.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I wanted to know what happened to the characters. And as a few loose ends were left dangling, I see no reason why I wouldn't pick up the sequel.
The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel - C.P. Lesley Exciting and intriguing, "The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel" is a brilliant reworking of the classic novel by Baroness Orczy. I have to admit that although I was casually familiar with the premise of the original, I'd never read it. That wasn't a problem here, though, as C.P. Lesley cleverly reveals Orczy's plot before diving headfirst into her own, and does it in such a way that I don't think it would ruin it for anyone who hadn't yet read the original. Lesley's characters are well-drawn, likeable and sympathetic, the plot unpredictable and exciting, and the resolution is satisfying. Add to that Lesley's knack for injecting just the right amount of accurate historical detail and you have a wonderful book, a perfect companion with which to curl up on a rainy day (or whatever setting you prefer when you want to be swept away). I couldn't recommend this book more and look forward to more from the author.