Why did Judas betray Jesus? I’ve always wondered and apparently Lee has as well. In her notes, Lee states that writing this novel was an intellectual...moreWhy did Judas betray Jesus? I’ve always wondered and apparently Lee has as well. In her notes, Lee states that writing this novel was an intellectual and spiritual quest to discover the life of Judas based on the belief that we all err in ways that make sense to us.
The historical context Lee created for this story is fascinating: the Roman occupation, the failed rebellions of others naming themselves Messiah, the different factions within the Temple. While rich in historical ambiance, this is very much an introspective work. Major events from the gospels are included but the focus of the story is on Judas’ personal journey and his perceptions of what’s happening around him. In the life Lee imagines for Judas, much of his time with Jesus is spent struggling to reconcile his faith in this radical young leader with his deep faith in Jewish law. In addition, the Judas Lee imagines wants Jesus to liberate his people from Rome, not realizing until too late that Christ’s mission was much different. Lee provides a convincing account of a man struggling to overcome a painful past, a man who cares deeply about the laws of his people, a man who desperately wants to do the right thing.
Even knowing how Judas’ story would end, I was so immersed in Lee’s telling of it that I could not put this book down. Looking forward to reading Havah: the story of Eve and Demon.(less)
“Whatever time we have,” he said, “it will be time enough.”
After her sister dies, Eva returns to the site of many happy childhood memories, Trelowarth...more“Whatever time we have,” he said, “it will be time enough.”
After her sister dies, Eva returns to the site of many happy childhood memories, Trelowarth House on the Cornish coast. As she renews old friendships and makes new ones, she finds herself dealing with something she doesn’t understand and can’t share. She hears voices no one else hears and sees things no one else sees. At first she thinks she’s losing her sanity but she soon realizes that she’s slipping back and forth in time.
I loved the setting, the characters, the story – the whole shebang! Kearsley makes time travel seem possible – not because she spends a lot of time explaining how it happens, but because she focuses on the challenges it presents. The fact that she creates believable, relatable characters helps too – it was easy for me to fall into the story without worrying too much about the mechanics of things, simply because I cared about the characters and found myself caught up in their stories.
The Rose Garden is a beautiful blend of past and present which explores the bonds of love, family, and home. As always, Kearsley creates a strong sense of place and history; as always, she blends romance, mystery, and supernatural elements into a story the reader just can’t put down. The story also has a neat little twist that I absolutely loved. Highly recommended!(less)
Best-selling author Carrie McClelland is struggling to complete her latest historical novel. A visit to her editor in Scotland changes things – as it...moreBest-selling author Carrie McClelland is struggling to complete her latest historical novel. A visit to her editor in Scotland changes things – as it happens, her editor lives near a site which played a role in the failed Jacobite Rebellion of 1708, the setting for her book. Settling herself into a cottage near Slains Castle, Carrie creates a heroine named after one of her own ancestors and the story begins to write itself at an incredible pace. Sentences form almost without thought and intense dreams about her characters fill in the blanks. As she turns to research to flesh out her story, however, she discovers that the novel she’s writing is more fact than fiction. Spooky!
Kearsley presents us with two intriguing storylines, one set in the present, one set in the past – genetic memory is the device used to link the two narratives. For whatever reason, the genetic memory angle didn’t quite work for me but I still enjoyed both storylines a great deal. Kearsley describes her writing as modern Gothic: a blend of historical adventure, modern-day suspense, and romance with a touch of something spooky. I think that description suits this novel well. We know that the Rebellion failed but Kearsley gives us an insider’s look into the people behind the history: who betrayed whom and why? Will longtime friends betray one another? What will happen to Sophia and John? Why does Carrie feel a sense of panic every time she makes the climb to her cottage after dark? What happened to the Castle’s inhabitants back in 1708???
What I like best about Susanna Kearsley is that she creates characters I can relate to. I also appreciate her skill in creating vivid settings, particularly since she takes me to places like England and Scotland – sigh. And I love, love, love the way she handles romance between her characters – the romantic tension is there but she leaves the bedroom details to the readers’ imagination. I like my imagination much better than most of the sex scenes written for romance novels!!!(less)
A few years have passed since Out of the Dawn Light: Lassair is now an accomplished healer. Her aunt is still very much needed in the village so when...moreA few years have passed since Out of the Dawn Light: Lassair is now an accomplished healer. Her aunt is still very much needed in the village so when word arrives that a cousin has been viciously attacked, it’s Lassair who must go to his aid. To protect her on the journey, her friend Sibert accompanies her—but he has reasons of his own for wanting to travel to Ely Island. There has always been an element of mystery about the death of his father and Sibert hopes that visiting the place where so much happened will provide some answers.
The death of Sibert’s father is not the only mystery however: it appears that Morcar was attacked because he witnessed someone being forced into the Ely monastery. Who could the pale youth be? Why is his location a secret to murder to protect?
The mystery of the pale youth is intriguing and is quite easy to envision during this turbulent time in England’s history. On the other hand, the mystery of Sibert’s father was anti-climatic for me—I’d already considered that possible storyline in the first book. As it unraveled in this book, I felt it was too drawn out and only served the purpose of a) keeping Lassair on Ely Island and b ) separating Lassair from Sibert and Hrype at key points. When uncovered, Sibert’s reaction to the truth was too extreme to be believable for me.
Mist Over the Water also introduces romance to the series. I like the ‘ongoing’ romance we discover this time around but the new romance that springs up didn’t work for me—at least not the way that it was presented. It might work for a teenage audience—maybe.
While Out of the Dawn Light touched upon the spiritual realm, Mist Over the Water immersed the reader (lots of spirit guides hanging about, being helpful). This is okay, although less detail is more for me in this regard. That said, I was fascinated by the ghost.
Final thoughts: although I love the time period and the period detail, I may let the rest of the series go unread—the actions/romances of the Lassair are a bit too young for me.(less)
One thrown punch was all that was needed to end Eric Shaw's bright future as a filmmaker in L.A. Realizing that his career in Hollywood was over, he m...moreOne thrown punch was all that was needed to end Eric Shaw's bright future as a filmmaker in L.A. Realizing that his career in Hollywood was over, he moved to Chicago and settled for a new livelihood creating family videos. His knack for choosing images that truly capture the essence of his subject leads to a generous financial offer to travel to the resort town of West Baden, Indiana. Shaw's wealthy client wants to know more about her secretive father-in-law's ties to the place. The only leads Shaw possesses are the name of the town and a bottle of old mineral water that the enigmatic gentleman kept for years - an unnaturally cool bottle of murky water that gets colder the closer Shaw gets to West Baden.
I love a book that strikes just the right balance between spooky and terrifying - So Cold the River is definitely spooky but I didn't have to sleep with the lights on. Koryta's characters are haunted first by directions their lives have taken, and then by a quite real, quite malicious ghost with a score to settle. The build-up is slow but deliciously atmospheric; the pace quickens once the spirit finds an ally in its quest for vengeance.
I really enjoyed this book, as much for its glimpse into the genuine history of the West Baden/French Lick area, as for its excellently drawn characters and its overall spooky feel. The hotels mentioned in the book are real - check them out online at West Baden Springs Hotel and French Lick Springs Hotel. I am curious to visit them myself but I may skip drinking the water! (less)
The Saint-Germain series melds historical fiction, romance and horror into something quite unique. SG is an intriguing character. He’s kind, but in Bl...moreThe Saint-Germain series melds historical fiction, romance and horror into something quite unique. SG is an intriguing character. He’s kind, but in Blood Games, he’s living in Nero’s Rome—why? It’s sickening to know that atrocities happen—why would anyone want a front-row seat? Is he trying to lead by example? Is he inflicting some sort of penance on himself? If so, for what? How long has he been around anyway? I’m curious enough that I’m planning to check out the rest of the series. For a quick glimpse of his personality, check out this link for Yarbro’s ”Interview With A Vampire” http://www.chelseaquinnyarbro.net/s-g...(less)
Tallis, an Athenian servant, has been sent to visit the Palestinian school his master has been supporting financially for the past few years. To his s...moreTallis, an Athenian servant, has been sent to visit the Palestinian school his master has been supporting financially for the past few years. To his surprise, he discovers that the school is no longer in existence; to his dismay, he finds that no one wants to acknowledge it ever existed. Through persistence, he’s able to learn that one of the former teachers was murdered, one committed suicide, one now worships in the temple of Dionysus, six are missing or in hiding, and one has become a madman.
It’s not obvious until the last few pages, but Groot takes a familiar account and provides a rich context; the Gerasene demoniac is no longer just a character, he’s a man with a complete story of his own. The story alternates between Kardus’ inner torment and Tallis’ quest to piece together what happened—it’s captivating. Madman is a well-paced, well-written historical novel. Highly recommended! (less)
I loved this book! You’ll find it in the Children’s section of the library but don’t let that deter you if the 5th grade is just a distant memory. "Th...moreI loved this book! You’ll find it in the Children’s section of the library but don’t let that deter you if the 5th grade is just a distant memory. "The Perilous Gard" is based on the Scottish legend of Tam Lin—it is a rich work of historical fiction with touches of romance and fantasy. In the story, Kate Sutton is exiled by Queen Mary Tudor to a remote castle—when she arrives, she learns of a recent tragedy that haunts the household, Christopher Heron most of all. Ever cool and practical, Kate looks beneath the circumstantial ‘evidence’ and local folklore—and uncovers a secret kept by the castle tenants ever since Christianity began to force out the practice of druidic magic.
If you like Victoria Holt, you'll enjoy this title!
"The Perilous Gard" is a Newbery Honor Book. For more about the Newbery Awards, please visit