Friday, 20 February 2015

The Woman In The Movie Star Dress by Praveen Asthana / The Daemon Device by Wendy Callahan / The Next Always by Nora Roberts

The Woman in the Movie Star DressThe Woman in the Movie Star Dress by Praveen Asthana
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of The Woman In The Movie Star Dress from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. This is also my fourth review for Sophie and Suze's NetGalley Challenge.

I was intrigued by the synopsis of this novel and the 1940s glamour of its cover, but was concerned that it might be too whimsical or require too much suspension of disbelief. Native American woman, Genevieve Nightcloud, works in a vintage clothing shop in Hollywood. She's at a pretty low point with major family troubles, no man and two dead-end jobs to make ends meet. Then a vintage red dress and matching cloche hat turn up in the shop under strange circumstances and Genevieve starts to realise that the spirits of previous wearers leave their auras in their clothes. Dress in Marlene Dietrich's outfit and feel her persona!

I was a bit sceptical at first, but this novel really worked for me. It's a bit romance, a lot noir and is deeper than it sounds. Plus there's loads of old and not-so-old movie references which I love. Once I got past my Mr Benn thoughts - "and as if by magic the shopkeeper appeared" - I enjoyed the read. Asthana has created good characters in Genevieve, Todd and Renzo, and both her father and brother are completely believable. I liked the complications of Genevieve's mother having lived as more than simply a Mum and felt the issues raised by this storyline were sensitively handled.

The Woman In The Movie Star Dress could be considered a coming-of-age novel. It's theme of dressing for confidence and self-belief is interesting to think about. To what extent can clothes really make the woman?

The Daemon Device (Aetheric Artifacts, #2)
The Daemon Device by Wendy L. Callahan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought the four volume compendium of the Aetheric Artifacts series as part of the Indie Steampunk Book Extravaganza 2 on Facebook last November.

I've been putting off reading The Daemon Device as I thoroughly enjoyed its predecessor, The Chronos Clock, and there is only one more book afterwards so I don't want the series to end too soon. Having said that, I devoured The Daemon Device in a single afternoon - it was raining outside!

We return to Demetra and Francis just after his mother has dropped her refusing to let the couple marry bombshell and Demetra is most definitely not amused. In another fantastically mad plot, D&A set off in search of Demetra's past, hoping that they can establish whether the refusal has a good reason or is simple prejudice. I loved new character Aunt Verti and the various ways her name can be interpreted. She is great fun. I also found Demetra's mother interesting as many times she seemed a more juvenile version of her daughter which is a fun twist.

The verbal sparring between all the characters was up to the giggle-worthy standards set previously. I still haven't got a clue on the science of any inventions but love picturing them and Callahan's descriptions of the new transportation methods are great fun. Horseless carriages - imagine that!

The Daemon Device was just as satisfying as I hoped it would be and now I just have to try and wait a while before ending the trilogy.

The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro, #1)The Next Always by Nora Roberts
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received a copy of The Next Always free from Amazon in return for having purchased a Kindle ebook during a promotional period.

I don't often pick up romance novels so I believe that The Next Always is the first Nora Roberts novel I've read. It's certainly the first in a very long time and likely to be the last too. I was disappointed at just how bland and formulaic the story was. Essentially just a long advertisement for the Boonsboro Inn - is Roberts an owner? - most of the book is taken up with lists of the luxurious furniture and fittings. We also meet a perfectly nice widow, Clare, who has nice children and falls in love with the nice man, Beckett, doing up the Inn. Surrounded by their nice friends and community, they overcome minor perils and, presumably, go on to live happily ever after as a Family.

Based on this one novel, I have no idea how Roberts sells so many thousands of books. I have read far more inventive fare from relatively unknown indie authors who could seriously benefit from 1% of her publicity, yet are ignored in favour of this drivel. Yawn.

Buy the paperback from Waterstones.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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