The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett

The first half of this book was a slog.

Ostensibly in English the book is sprinkled with so much Latin, French, Spanish, Old English (“..And as the chekker schawis us yis forne…”) and 16th century Scottish colloquialisms (“I never saw so many weel-kent faces all in the one place; the most of them chowed off and in no state to give the sort of snash you get from half of them when they’re upright.”) that I started to wonder if I was fluent in any language, particularly English. It took awhile, a long while, before I caught the rhythm of the language enough that I didn’t have to re-read it, learned to skim the other languages for words I knew, and just keep moving through it.  By the time I had the language in hand I had pretty much learned all of the names of the important characters (everyone seems to have at least two) and their titles so I knew who was who and then…

And then the second half of the book flew by in a whirl of spying, dying and lying mixed with jokes (I thoroughly enjoyed the ones in English) and general sixteenth century drama.  And I didn’t want to put it down.

Would I recommend it? It is not a book for the faint of heart, a week ago I would have told you maybe not.  But now that I’ve made it through I’m thinking about getting the next one in the series… or re-reading the first half again.. or both.

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The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

I know there are a lot of WWII books around but this is the one you really need to read:

 

Would I recommend it? Technically a middle grade book I’ve been recommending this to everyone from my 10 year old daughter to my 92 year old granny.  So, yes, you should read it too. (And you should really have the sequel The War I Finally Won on hand to follow it up with!)

The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James

“Finis.”

I read the last line, sighed happily and mentally hugged the digital book to my heart (It’s a true downfall of e-readers, they just don’t snuggle like paper does).

This novel flipped between excerpts from Mrs. Darcy’s diary (yes, that Pride and Prejudice Mrs. Darcy) and the 2014 hunt for the lost diary. On the surface that sounds like it could be, well, boring.

It wasn’t.

The chapters switched between time frames in a way that I was never lost in one time yearning for another. I loved the romance, (of the happy sighing kind) and the hard to put down suspense of it all (I know, lost document suspense, believe it!). My only regret is that e-readers just don’t accept hugs like paperbacks do.

Would I recommend it? I have already told everyone who’s been willing to sit and listen that they should read this and you should too! If you’ve ever shown even a passing interest in Pride and Prejudice, historical fiction, sweet romance, contemporary drama or detective stories, try this book! I absolutely loved it and have moved the authors other book to the top of my “to be read” list!

Rosie's Book Review team 1

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!

The Doctor’s Daughter by Vanessa Matthews

It’s the 1920’s in Vienna, the women are breaking out of molds, the men aren’t ready for it and the psychologists are analyzing it all.  This is truly, “A dark and fascinating historical tale.”

A cover both beautiful and perfect!

The characters were dark. Very dark. They were dark with anxiety, dark with evil and dark with sadness and loss. Many of them were hard to like, some of them I loved to hate and all of them were dark.

The plot was fascinating, dark people, dark desires and dark motives made for more than a few surprises.

The historical time was equally fascinating and frustrating. “He was not convinced that women, even well-educated ones like Marta, could cope with consequences and accountability.” – The doctor of The Doctor’s Daughter was not my favorite person.

My only wish is that it had been longer. The characters and their motives were complex but there were still times that I wished the author had filled in a little more of what was in her head. Those were times that the characters’ actions didn’t seem to quite add up to what I had been told about them. I’d find myself stepping back from the flow of the story as I internally debated the believability of their actions. But, given the richness of what was told, I feel certain that information was there. It was within a backstory or a side note hiding in her mind and just didn’t make it into print.

Would I recommend it? Have I mentioned that this book was dark? It made for a hard read. Not a bad read mind you, just hard. The main character suffers from anxiety and self harms as her way of coping – it’s not for everyone. But those who are up for it will get treated to a very rich snapshot of history.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

This honest review was given in return for a free copy of the book from its author.

The Highlander by Zoe Saadia

Can you say… Tenochtitlan, Tepanecs, Tlaxcala and Nezahualcoyotl three times fast?

Yeah, me neither.

But at least now I know what they are! (An Aztec capital, a mesoamerican tribe, a town, and an heir to Texcoco, in case you were wondering.)

The Highlander jumps right to the story, immerses it in history and never pauses to lecture on the subject. This can be a bit confusing when mesoamerica circa 1400’s is completely new to you (as it was to me) but worth it. If given the choice between initial confusion and interrupting the flow of a story to give a history lesson, I’ll choose initial confusion every time. And, as happens in well done historical fiction, by the end of this fairly short book I had many of the unfamiliar terms, towns and people sorted out in my brain – even if I still can’t pronounce a single one of them.

Saadia is also great at writing adolescent boys. The trouble is adolescent boys are not my favorite. Teenage boys were annoying when I was a teenager, and they haven’t gotten less so just because they are fictional. And, yes, because my husband asked, I didn’t even like Harry Potter that much during his teenage years. And, no, in case you are wondering I didn’t know my husband when he was that age. And, no, I will not speculate on what I might have thought of him then.  The two main characters in this story are boys brimming with adolescent, angst-ey, angry, hormonal, warrior energy. All their boy shenanigans are a great way to tell the story, immerse the reader in history and keep it exciting. It’s just that all those warrior hormones seem to get in the way of other things – like brains. I found myself yelling at them, “Seriously boys, what are you doing? Just think!” Initially I thought perhaps they could have been written differently but then I remembered back to when I spent time with fifteen year old boys – and figured she was writing them just right.

Would I recommend it? I loved learning some of the history of a place and time entirely new to me and the book does have a pretty fantastic female character hiding in the wings but those boys… I just don’t love those boys…

 

Rosie's Book Review team 1

This honest review was given in return for a free copy of the book from its author.

 

 

The Devil in Montmartre by Gary Inbinder (& Pinterest)

For years I’ve kept an ongoing lists of books to read on numerous pieces of scrap paper tucked into the pages of a journal of books I have read.

It was a semi-functional system.

Recently I decided to embrace both technology and organization and upgraded to Pinterest.

I’m loving it.

It’s often just as easy to pin a book as it is to jot it down on a piece of paper and it’s much harder to lose. Then, when I’m in need of a new book, I scan through my “books to read” board, hop on my favorite inter-library loan system and request a few books.

It’s a significant upgrade from lost scraps of paper and I love that my new “list” shows me the collection of covers rather than just titles. books to readSince my upgrade I have been known to hone in on a book cover that looks familiar at book stores, libraries and friends bookshelves, finding what I would never have remembered had I relied on my list of titles. And when the miracles of inter-library loan puts a copy in my hand, the title may still be unfamiliar but the cover will often remind me why I wanted to read it in the first place.

Often, but not always…

Sometimes I get a book I have requested from the library and wonder things like, ” Why on earth was I planning on reading a book titled The Devil in Montmartre?” 

But I read it anyway because I wouldn’t have pinned it and then requested it from the library without reason, even if I couldn’t for the life of me remember why I would have wanted to read such a terrifying sounding and looking book.

Which was good because once I read it I discovered that the reason I must have requested it was that it was focused on the 1889 forensic techniques used to solve a murder in Montmartre Paris, and that was pretty darn cool.

Would I recommend it? This is set in Montmartre at the time of the Moulin Rouge. And yes, everything illicit that comes to mind is in here, plus a bit more, as well as a really irritating doormat of a wife and a rather gruesome murder. So it’s not for the feminist, squeamish, prudish or my mother because sometimes there are books that you’d rather your mother didn’t also read no matter how old you are.

But the forensic stuff was good…

The Wrath Inside by RR Gall

Often it starts with a setting that interests you, then the characters paint their lives full and rich, the plot hooks you for good and there you are engrossed in a good book.

As a story set it AD 15 The Wrath Inside certainly interested me and perhaps that was the problem. I was so busy being analytically interested I never became emotionally involved. So much of my inner dialog was saying things like; “Ha- of course teenagers were still smart alecs.” “Is that what their houses are like?” “Are those wood working tools really as old as all that? I wonder what they looked like?”  ” Wait, what are they eating?” “Should I know this person?” “How much of this is real?” I was googling, and defining and learning… and completely missing getting wrapped up in the character and plots.The Wrath Inside by RR Gall

I missed connecting with the young boy who was sucked into schemes he knows little about and the angry Roman commander who has come to take the census of his town. And as for the many plot lines that were being woven, well, I was too busy wondering over cooking tortoises to puzzle over any mystery. Finally when the different plots started weaving together near the end, promising more action in the following book, I was surprised at all that had been going on while I was marveling over roofing design!

Would I recommend it? The book was interesting but not captivating. Of course, that said, I’d like to read the next one. I think I need to know what happens next!Rosie's Book Review team 1

 

This honest review was given in return for a free copy of the book from its author.