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Readingomnivore Reviews

Discussion in 'Book Reviews' started by readingomnivore, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    UNDER THE HARVEST MOON is Sophia Lynbrook's recent variation on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It was released in digital format in 2018.

    Mr. Bennet is excited at the news that Charles Bingley will be installed at Netherfield before Michaelmas. This year's annual harvest dance is scheduled for Longbourn the first full moon following Michaelmas, but Mr. Bennet has high hopes of persuading Bingley to host it instead. Time is short but, with Mrs. Bennet's enthusiastic help and his instant infatuation with Jane Bennet, Bingley is up to the task. Things, however, go awry. Darcy and Bingley's sisters arrive ahead of schedule, all critical of such a democratic social occasion; Lady Catherine picks up gossip that Darcy is engaged to Caroline Bingley and descends to forbid the marriage, accompanied by Anne and by Collins; a militia regiment establishes camp in Meryton for the winter; and Anne manages her own romance.

    UNDER THE HARVEST MOON is one of the better written fan fiction variants of 2018. Lynbrook compresses the action into a few weeks, making for a swift flow and allowing for little angst. Much of the harvest dance is a comedy of errors as various characters seek to find or to avoid confrontations. Humor abounds. I appreciate the irony of Lady Catherine and the special license, though it's not plausible.

    Characters are faithful to Austen's creations, though Elizabeth and Darcy are both more flexible in their thinking, willing to reassess their conclusions and acknowledge their feelings easily. Collins is more bumptious, and Anne reveals elements of character previously concealed.

    Editing is good. A few anachronistic words are not offensive. The biggest problem is the appearance in the sky with the harvest moon, of the Great Comet, generally referring to Halley's Comet. The nineteenth-century appearance of Halley's Comet was not until 1835. Otherwise, a solid read. (A-)
     
  2. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    LEGEND OF THE DEAD is the first book in Micah S. Hackler's police procedural series featuring Sheriff Cliff Lansing of San Phillipe County, New Mexico. It was published in digital format in 1995.

    I give up on LEGEND OF THE DEAD halfway through. What's wrong? The plot has been often used--a land swap between the Bureau of Land Management and the Zuni Nation that imperils a major unreported Anasazi city, pot-hunting Native American sites, crooked businessmen and politicians, and estranged daughter-father relations.

    Sense of place is not much developed. A map would be helpful. Writing is almost exclusively subject-verb-object simple declarative sentences. Frequent cuts between characters make for choppy reading.

    Lack of characterization bothers me most. Hackler gives few details about Lansing, and only three Sheriff's Department personnel are named. Senator Carter Williston is first depicted as a typical sleazy politician, but halfway through, he's morphing into a good guy. No explanation for the change is given. Characters remain mere names.

    No grade because not finished.
     
  3. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    "A Little Whimsical in His Civilities" is J. Maria Croft's short story variant of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Croft opens its action at the Meryton assembly one year after Darcy and Bingley attend the original. Darcy is its first person narrator. The story was published in digital format in 2015.

    I do not like the Darcy Croft develops. When the action opens, Darcy's attitude seems unchanged: "This is precisely what comes from presenting a convivial countenance. Now I am obliged to swallow my pride and make the supreme sacrifice of stooping, I mean stopping to chat with a merchant. Not that it matters he is but a low-born tradesman. I am, after all, above such prejudice since becoming on good terms with Mr. Gardiner." His willingness to judge himself superior and to disparage his perceived competition for Elizabeth with Shakespearean insults casts doubt on his sincere change, especially when he morphs from boorish and tongue-tied to happy and articulate instantly when Elizabeth encourages him.

    "A Little Whimsical in His Civilities" offers little new. (C)
     
  4. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    HEARTSHOT is the first book in Steven F. Havill's long-running Posadas County police procedural series featuring Undersheriff Bill Gastner. It was originally published in 1991, then reissued in digital format in 2012.

    HEARTSHOT opens with change under way in the Posadas County, New Mexico, Sheriff's Department. Marty Holman, the newly elected sheriff, is a former used car salesman with no experience in law enforcement, and Undersheriff Gsstner, after twenty years in the r'Air Force and twenty more in the department, is uncertain about his future. When five teenagers are killed in a horrific automobile accident while fleeing a non-pursuing police car, Gastner is surprised to find a kilo of cocaine in the car. To whom did it belong, and whence did it come? Following the drugs leads to more deaths and a larger problem than envisioned.

    The Posadas County is one of my favorites, so I was pleased when I discovered several early titles I'd overlooked. Gastner as first person narrater is key to the sense of Posadas County as a real place with with details of local history as well as physical feature. "Posadas needed all the color it could get, since it wasn't more than a scruffy wide spot, a watering hole for tourists hurrying to get somewhere else. July Fourth was a big shindig, with the parade officially opening the holiday arts and crafts fair in the small town square. For two days the law turned its back on alcoholic beverages in public places and the aroma of Indian fry bread became so thick it blanked out even the red dust."

    Gastner is also the linchpin of the Sheriff's Department, overseeing the daily workings of its personnel. Havill creates a community of believable individuals, all of whom (including the sheriff) Gastner mentors. He's been around forever, seen most everything and dealt with it, and still is a compassionate man with a dry, self-deprecating sense of humor.

    If you haven't read this series, HEARTSHOT is a great beginning.
     
  5. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    THE BELL is Mary Lydon Simonsen's novella-length variation on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It was published in digital format in 2019. I am definitely old-school, believing that a variant should somehow offer some new understanding of character or action to justify the time required both to write and to read it. I was disappointed in THE BELL.

    One of the two essential changes to the story line involves Darcy's continuation in a case of mistaken identity when his steward Flitter is mistaken for himself while inspecting Netherfield for Charles Bingley. The second involves Mrs. Darlington, anxious to have Bingley sign the lease on Netherfield, who plans a select card party to introduce the young man to the neighborhood and devises a novel means of insuring that each young lady spends time in his company. Naturally, nothing goes to plan. Elements of humor offer some relief, but there's little to offer suspense or drama.

    The lead characters are dramatically changed. Georgiana has set Darcy straight on his perceived behavior and attitude, so he's amiable, jokes, and immediately pursues Elizabeth Bennet. No angst over her connections, family, or lack of dowry, so no hurt feelings for Elizabeth. She thinks the mistaken identity a good joke, so she and Darcy have come to an understanding before the end of the Netherfield ball.

    My complaint is the lack of new insight. (C)
     

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