The Ashes of Heaven's Pillar is unlike any book I have ever read. I have read the companion novel but while The Cross and the Dragon focuses on the n...more The Ashes of Heaven's Pillar is unlike any book I have ever read. I have read the companion novel but while The Cross and the Dragon focuses on the nobility, this book focuses on the regular people, servants and slaves living under the reign of Charlemagne.
Likes: I loved the story. Ms. Rendfeld has done a lot of research and created a wonderful story surrounding a Saxon family as they deal with slavery, heartache and betrayal. I enjoyed reading about everyday life and the issues that people had to deal with. I know almost nothing about this era so I found the setting and descriptions of Saxony and the different French cities to be fascinating. I was really interested in the Saxon side of things; it was really sad to see how everything was destroyed by the French and then the Saxons were forced to give up their religion in order to just be allowed to live. I would very much like to learn more about these events.
Characters: There were so many great characters in this story that it's hard to pick a favorite. Leova's strength and intelligence were remarkable; she always seemed to be able to assess every situation and pick the path that would help her family the most. Pinabel was pure evil and I spent most of the book hoping he would get what's coming to him. One of the things I really liked about this book is that not only were there great main characters but the cast of supporting characters were pretty awesome too. I loved Hugh from the first appearance he made and Ives completely snuck up on me. I didn't think too much of him at first but he slowly developed into a character that I couldn't help but like.
Dislikes: The only thing I disliked (not really disliked but questioned) was that the story ended really fast and things seemed a little too wrapped up. I like that there were no loose ends left but at the same time it made the story seem less realistic.
Overall, The Ashes of Heaven's Pillar is a really good book. I am definitely looking forward to what Ms. Rendfeld has in store for readers in the future. 4 stars. (less)
All I can say is WOW! I know I gush about these books but they just keep getting better. This book was rough on my emotions but it is probably one of...moreAll I can say is WOW! I know I gush about these books but they just keep getting better. This book was rough on my emotions but it is probably one of my favorites of the six in the series.
Anna Belfrage is an amazing writer and I think that was especially evident in this book. She makes her characters so real that you could almost feel the same things they were feeling. The Grahams fell on some hard times in this book and there were several parts that had me in tears. One of the reasons that I like these books so much is that they 'keep it real'. The Grahams are an extraordinary family but they aren't immune to the hardships of the real world. They in American colonies in the 1600s, life wouldn't have been easy and Ms. Belfrage doesn't try to sugarcoat what life would have been like. I also think she did an excellent job of dealing with some really tough issues as they related to some of her characters. There were a few characters who experienced some really horrible things and I thought she treated them so respectfully in the way she described the events and their aftermath.
I enjoyed getting to know some of the secondary characters more in this book. I found Lucy to be so interesting. She did some bad things and wasn't the nicest person on the planet but it seemed that really all she wanted was a little attention. Her fascination with the little painting/portal made me wonder if she'll play a larger role in future books. I also liked getting to know Sarah as a character and enjoyed seeing the friendship between Sarah and Father Munoz grow. The Burleys...UGH. I hate them so much and wish they would go away and never come back. They are some of the worst villains I have ever read about and are right up there with Black Jack Randall on my list of characters I despise. I knew they were a bad bunch but this book just cemented how awful they are.
After some of the events in this book, I am curious to see what role 'the present' as Alex knows it will play in future books. I really want to know what Isaac is doing now so I'm hoping he will show up again. I am super excited to read the next book but a little nervous at the same time (I read the preview segment, and all I have to say is WHY???). Seriously people, if you haven't read these books yet, what are you waiting for? 4 1/2 stars. (less)
Allegra Jordan's The End of Innocence is a beautifully written story set at the beginning of World War I. Harvard University's campus takes center sta...moreAllegra Jordan's The End of Innocence is a beautifully written story set at the beginning of World War I. Harvard University's campus takes center stage in this heart-breaking tale of love, loss, and new beginnings. I really don't know anything about Harvard's history or campus but this story made me want to learn more. The descriptions of the campus and the buildings were wonderful and I enjoyed learning about the building of the memorial chapel and the two memorials in it. I liked how the author took one of the main characters and made her the main proponent of the need for a memorial to the German students.
The story centers around Helen, Wils and his cousin, Riley. Wils is German and Riley is English which creates an interesting dichotomy. The war has just broken out, tempers are heated on the Harvard University campus and Wils was German when it was the least coolest thing to be. Wils was my favorite part of the story. I loved his personality, his poetry and just his voice in general. He dealt with all of the negativity on campus with such grace. Riley was an interesting character in that he seemed really superficial at first but as the story progressed, he grew into a really admirable character. Both cousins loved each other and didn't really have strong feelings about the war but were forced to fight against each other. I've always struggled with a 'side' when it comes to World War I and this book cemented in my head the immense suffering that both sides had to deal with.
Following Helen throughout the story was kind of like riding a roller coaster. There were a lot of highs and lows but at the end of the day, she was an extremely tough, resilient and intelligent character. I can't imagine dealing with the pain she had to endure but I was glad to see her find herself as the story progressed. The only thing that I didn't love about the story is that it felt really rushed at the end. I loved the way it ended but it still seemed to go from one story line to the next really quickly.
I'm really interested in the World War I era but I haven't read much about what was going on in the United States during the early years of the war so this story opened up a whole new world for me. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a fascinating and well-written story. 4 stars. (less)
Likes: This was a no nonense, suck you in immediately kind of read. There was action and adventure that began in the first few pages and followed thro...moreLikes: This was a no nonense, suck you in immediately kind of read. There was action and adventure that began in the first few pages and followed through to the very end; I definitely could not stop reading. The characters were great and I like that the story wasn't predictable. There were a lot of twists and turns that made for an exciting read. I also liked how the romantic aspect of the story didn't overpower everything else that was going on. It had the best of both worlds (good romance and good action).
Characters: Aedan was a cool hero. He was a good guy who had to engage in questionable activities in order to help his sister. I didn't always agree with his actions but he was incredibly likable. I do think I have been watching too much Game of Thrones though, Aedan has a scarred face and I had a hard time not picturing the Hound as Aedan in my mind. Whoops. Anne is a tough little cookie though at times she made rash decisions that got her into trouble. I think that added to her appeal in my mind.
Milene and the sheriff were excellent villains. The sheriff was so freaking awful and Milene was such a heartless word I won't put in my review. They were so bad that they were 'good'. I love when a writer can make you feel a strong sense of hatred toward the villains in the story!
Overall: This was a really fun read that would be a perfect addition to your summer reading list. 3 stars.
Likes: I have only read one other book by M.J. Rose but after finishing The Collector of Dying Breaths, I am convinced that I need to read more! I was...moreLikes: I have only read one other book by M.J. Rose but after finishing The Collector of Dying Breaths, I am convinced that I need to read more! I was kind of feeling like I was in a reading slump and this book pulled me out completely. Once I started reading, there was no stopping! I loved how the story jumped between past and present so seamlessly and how connected the two were. I also enjoyed the romantic aspect as well as the creep factor. It's not really a mystery novel but it definitely had a creepiness to it that I really liked. One of my favorite aspects of the story is the author's descriptions of perfumes: the smells, the ingredients and how they were made. I felt like I could almost smell the specific perfumes as she was describing them.
Characters: Jac is such an awesome character. Her ability to connect with past lives is fascinating and made for an exciting story. I also really liked Rene Bianco. His rise from obscurity to be such a powerful force at the court of Catherine de Medici made for great reading. He was a very complex character; he was a master at creating poisons for Queen Catherine but at the same time, he didn't like that he was responsible for so many deaths. I've always found Catherine de Medici to be a really interesting historical figure and I'm still on the fence as to how I felt about her in this book. There were things to like about her (saving Rene) and things that were not so likable.
Dislikes: I didn't really 'dislike' anything about this book but I would have liked to know more about Melinoe. She was definitely a very 'unique' person. Her father's death was just so weird and all the shady things she did while working with Jac made me very curious about her life in general as well as her very odd relationship with her step-brother.
Overall: I loved this book. LOVED. 4 1/2 stars.(less)