Size Doesn’t Matter (126): Like a River Glorious; Leopard at the Door

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (126): Like a River Glorious; Leopard at the DoorLike a River Glorious by Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #2
Published by Greenwillow on September 27, 2016
Genres: Historical, Western, Paranormal
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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He will never stop hunting me down. I have to end him, and soon.

Lee Westfall survived the dangerous journey to California. She found a new family in the other outcasts of their wagon train, and Jefferson, her best friend, is beginning to woo her shamelessly. Now they have a real home—one rich in gold, thanks to Lee’s magical ability to sense the precious metal in the world around her.

But Lee’s Uncle Hiram has survived his own journey west. He’s already murdered her parents, and he will do anything to have Lee and her talents under his control. No one is safe. When he kidnaps her, she sees firsthand the depths of his depravity.

Lee’s magic is changing, though. It is growing. The gold no longer simply sings to her—it listens. It obeys her call. Will that alone be enough to destroy her uncle?

If I had to describe Like a River Glorious in one word, it would be anticlimactic. Walk the Earth a Stranger had brilliant pacing and was full of adventure. In tone, Like a River Glorious is completely different. It is the most three star of all three star reads.

The pace of Like a River Glorious is slow and steady, but it’s by no means rip-roaring. There’s still a fair amount of danger, but it doesn’t feel immediate. The tension is lacking, despite everything that’s going on. Without the strong plot and constant action to keep me invested, the weakness of the characters shows through strongly.

Leah and Jefferson are good people. They’re so good. The bad men are so bad. I prefer characters who play in the shades of gray. It’s not very interesting when the good guys are the nicest and the sweetest and the bad guys are the evillest of evil. Leah and Jefferson manage some cute banter occasionally, but mostly they’re sentiment personified. The lessons Leah learns along the way are so syrupy they could top pancakes.

Leah spends most of this book getting her privilege checked, though she doesn’t understand a lot of it. Though she gets credit with being the most useful party of basically any group she’s in, she expects POCs who are going through much worse stuff than she is to save her. And she whines about how hard her role is. Leah also really does need them to save her, because she’s not good at planning actually.

Hopefully Carson can put together a more dramatic finale, because Like a River Glorious whelmed most spectacularly. View Spoiler » Carson’s been really strong up to now, so let’s hope for better.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (126): Like a River Glorious; Leopard at the DoorLeopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh
Narrator: Katherine McEwan
Length: 12 hrs, 15 mins
Published by Penguin Audio on January 3, 2017
Genres: Historical
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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Set in Kenya in the 1950s against the fading backdrop of the British Empire, a story of self-discovery, betrayal, and an impossible love.

After six years in England, Rachel has returned to Kenya and the farm where she spent her childhood, but the beloved home she d longed for is much changed. Her father s new companion a strange, intolerant woman has taken over the household. The political climate in the country grows more unsettled by the day and is approaching the boiling point. And looming over them all is the threat of the Mau Mau, a secret society intent on uniting the native Kenyans and overthrowing the whites.

As Rachel struggles to find her place in her home and her country, she initiates a covert relationship, one that will demand from her a gross act of betrayal. One man knows her secret, and he has made it clear how she can buy his silence. But she knows something of her own, something she has never told anyone. And her knowledge brings her power.

Amusingly, I passed when offered a print review copy of Leopard at the Door, but I decided to give the audiobook a shot. I do love British narration. Leopard at the Door was enjoyable, but ultimately I wished the focus hadn’t been on the white people of Kenya.

The setting of 1950s Kenya was beautiful, and it’s a culture I know basically nothing about, so even a fictional view was entrancing. McVeigh does a nice job highlighting both good and bad; there’s no romanticization of anything. This book is not a love letter to colonialization, and it doesn’t show the British to be in any way superior. Actually, most of the British people in the book are utter shitheads, racist and sexist.

Of course, the book is from the POV of Rachel, who grew up in Kenya but spent many years being raised in England by her distant grandparents following the death of her mom. After years of wishing, she’s finally coming home to Kenya. She’s thrilled to be back, but horrified at the changes. Her father’s living with a terrible, manipulative, hateful woman who is basically the complete opposite of Rachel’s mom. Kenya’s breaking into violence as the Mau Mau rebel against the white leadership.

Rachel’s precisely what you’d expect, privileged but good intentioned. She wants to educate the Africans, but she doesn’t understand a lot of what’s going on. She chafes against her almost step-mother Sara’s cruel treatment of their African workers. Over the course of the novel, Rachel has her eyes opened to racism, has her privilege checked frequently, and falls in love with Michael, a highly educated Kenyan man who works for her family. It’s not bad, but it’s frustrating that this naive and fairly uninteresting girl is the focal point for this story just because she’s white. Michael’s a much more fascinating character and I’d prefer the story from his POV.

There’s not as much nuance or depth as I prefer character-wise, but I really enjoyed the setting and historical aspects of Leopard at the Door.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


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