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.

 

 

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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.

The Last Runaway by Tracey Chevalier

The reader in me waded into this book and the current of the story swept me off my feet and down the stream. My poor conscience was left running down the shore alone.  After the final page the reader dragged herself out onto shore and sat dripping, foolishly grinning as she stared off into the distance. But before too long my conscience showed up and assaulted the reader in me. “What was that?” “You seriously liked that person?” “Weren’t you annoyed by that person?” “Didn’t you think?”

But the reader in me only shrugged and with a little half smile said, “That lady can write.”

Would I recommend it? Yes.

Graffiti Knight by Karen Bass

I love historical fiction but often I feel like I read a different spin on the same time and place over and over and…

Mind you, I’m not complaining, I still love it.

But a book written about post WWII soviet controlled Germany, from a German view point ? That was something entirely new.

Would I recommend it? This is a young adult novel and, as most young adult novels do, it contains a main character of an age that is full of angst, invincibility and self importance.  He is crafted so well that I could imagine sitting in a room and talking to him – except I wouldn’t want to.  However, he is so perfect in his irritating-ness that I’m still planning on shoving this book at all my friends and family that I know enjoy a young adult novel because it was really that good.

 

 

An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy by June Kearns

For the first time ever I was given a copy of a book to review by it’s author. (Actually what happened was Rosie Amber put out a call for volunteer book reviewers and I stuck my virtual hand in the air and said “Me! Me! Pick me!”  – and then the author gave me a copy.)

But when I got the book, I’ll admit, I was a little nervous. Cowboy and Englishwoman romance- it could be awesome, it could be terrible. I’ve exchanged words with a few authors via book reviews before but never before I read the book. What if I hated it? What would I say? What had I agreed to?

Nothing for it, I took a breath, dove in and on the second page surprised myself by snorting out loud in laughter. Worries banished I settled in, ignored everyone I was on vacation with and spent the remainder of the afternoon giggling, snorting and laughing as I thoroughly enjoyed the book!

Would I recommend it? Had you told me that someone could successfully combine Louis L’Amour and Janet Evanovich I would have rolled my eyes. I would have been so, so wrong.

Is the ending a bit too perfect? Yes.

Did it stop my enjoyment of it? Not even a little bit.Rosie's Book Review Challengers 1

The Witches Daughter by Paula Brackston

There are times when it’s funny, (if inappropriate) to joke that your two year old is possessed by demons.

While reading this book is not one of them.The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston

Of course John didn’t know I was reading a book full of witches and magic and demonic powers and other scary stuff.  And Jane was having an odd and terrible night. And it’s not John’s fault he can make a harmless comment and then fall asleep 2.7 seconds later.

But it wasn’t funny.

Would I recommend it? I only like to give a recommendation if I think anyone and everyone would like it and should read it. In this case I enjoyed it, but I don’t know that I would give it to someone who doesn’t enjoy a book of magic and history and witches but, if that’s your thing, go find it!