I can't believe the series is over! As sad I am that it has come to an end, I cannot think of a better way to end the series. We get to see Alex and I can't believe the series is over! As sad I am that it has come to an end, I cannot think of a better way to end the series. We get to see Alex and Matthew grow old together with their grown children and friends and I kind of felt like they got a 'happily ever after'. I will miss them but Ms. Belfrage gave us the perfect ending to their story.
Have I mentioned that I love these books? Because I do...so much. I thought it was perfect that Matthew got to return to Scotland; I don't think he would have ever been truly happy in America if he hadn't been able to go back and realize where his true home was. Even though leaving wasn't his choice, I think it was important for him to see that, in the end, it was the right choice.
Speaking of Matthew, I liked that he and Luke came to terms with each other (kind of). Luke is still a rat bastard (excuse the language, I'm only speaking the truth) but he and Matthew at least could function in each others presence in this book. Even though I hate Luke, I didn't hate him as much in this book as I did in the past; I felt like I could finally see where he was coming from, even though I still don't agree with his bad behavior.
This book was mostly Alex and Matthew's story but I loved that we got to see Isaac again. I've been wondering about him for several books. His storyline wasn't what I expected at all but I'm glad that he made an appearance for the last book. We also got to see Father Carlos again which was fun for me since he's one of my favorite side characters.
One of the things I love most about these books, is how well Ms. Belfrage is able to evoke emotion from the reader and make the reader truly care about the characters. There was a scene where Alex visited a loved ones' grave and the way the scene was set just broke my heart and left me in tears. I couldn't help but feel for Alex and all of the losses she endured.
Okay, I think I've babbled on long enough about this book. Needless to say, I loved it and while I'm sad to say goodbye, I'm excited to see what Ms. Belfrage has in store for us in the future. 4 stars....more
Inspector of the Dead is a fantastic sequel to Murder as a Fine Art. David Morrell has out done himself again. I felt like this book was a double wha Inspector of the Dead is a fantastic sequel to Murder as a Fine Art. David Morrell has out done himself again. I felt like this book was a double whammy combining an awesome mystery with a look at Queen Victoria and her reign. I will definitely be reading more about Victoria in the near future.
Thomas De Quincey is back in all his eccentric glory in this book. However, I do think that several of the side characters from the last book, became more prominent in this book. Mr. Morrell did a great job of letting the reader see more of the other characters while not stealing De Quincey's limelight. I especially enjoyed getting to know Emily more in this book and seeing her strength and intelligence highlighted.
I must say that Mr. Morrell comes up with some awesome villains and does an amazing job of hiding them in plain sight. I never saw it coming! And despite how perfectly evil he was, I kind of felt sorry for him. As the reader finds out all of the awful things that led to the villain becoming a murderer, it's hard not to sympathize with his plight. I really struggled with wanting to hate him while also feeling guilty that the system failed him so miserably.
Morrell's descriptions of Victorian London are once again wonderful. I also thought that he did an excellent job of putting a ton of information about Queen Victoria and the political climate into the story in such a way that it flowed nicely with the murder mystery. Overall, this is a great book and I'm really hoping that Mr. Morrell writes another De Quincey book soon! 4 stars....more
The Witch Hunter's Tale is the third book in Sam Thomas' Midwife Mystery series and so far it is my favorite. I could not stop reading it! They just kThe Witch Hunter's Tale is the third book in Sam Thomas' Midwife Mystery series and so far it is my favorite. I could not stop reading it! They just keep getting better and I think he outdid himself with this one!
I am really interested in 'witch hunts' of the past so I found this to be a really compelling story. Mr. Thomas did a good job of showing how the fear of witches and the unexplainable could permeate society and do great damage to a community. You could almost feel the fear throughout the story. I liked how Lady Bridget even believed in witches even though she thought the women accused were innocent. I think it made the story more authentic to have the main character believing as most of her contemporaries would have. It was a little shocking at first but overall I did like that.
The story had a lot of twists and turns and one amazing villain. I thought Rebecca Hooke was bad but Joseph was the worst. For a so-called 'man of God' he was pure evil and I just couldn't believe the lengths he went to in order to get more power for himself. I was very surprised with the way things turned out; I would never have expected it but I think it worked. That being said, the end was so sad (for me) and I was left with so many questions. I'm hoping there will be another book after this because I really want some resolution after the events of this one.
Overall, an excellent historical mystery! 4 stars....more
The Towers of Tuscany is a fascinating read. I am not familiar with Italian history at all but I was enthralled by the descriptions of life in medievaThe Towers of Tuscany is a fascinating read. I am not familiar with Italian history at all but I was enthralled by the descriptions of life in medieval Italy and work of artists living there.
I really enjoyed reading about the process of creating a painting and all the work involved. I knew it was a complicated process but I had no idea how much work an artist put into creating one painted panel. I loved the vivid descriptions of the paintings themselves; the way the figures looked, the colors, the symbolism, etc. I also enjoyed the descriptions of Siena and the town of San Gimignano. The way she described the towers and the different buildings as well as all the twists and turns in the city of Siena just made me want to visit Italy now.
Sofia was an interesting character. She was strong-willed woman who was determined to follow her dreams no matter what. I liked her as a character but at times she seemed very full of herself and that got a little irritating. She was very unlucky in love and I felt kind of bad for her in that regard. There were a lot of great characters in this book but I think Francesco and Marcello were my favorites. They were both so kind and devoted to helping Sofia and yet there was so much more to them. They both had this quiet depth to them that made me want to know them more.
I was a little disappointed in the ending. It felt very rushed and I had a lot of questions left unanswered. Also, I wasn't quite sure of the Epilogue; I read it twice but I may have to go back and read it again because it just felt like it didn't go with the story. Despite the way it ended, I did enjoy this book and am very interested in learning more about painting in Italy during this era. 3 stars....more
A Grave Inheritance is the lively, action-packed sequel to Goddess Born. From page one, I was sucked into an awesome roller coaster ride of magic, ro A Grave Inheritance is the lively, action-packed sequel to Goddess Born. From page one, I was sucked into an awesome roller coaster ride of magic, royalty and intrigue in late 18th century London.
I went into this book thinking that Selah was the only character with a huge secret but boy, was I wrong. They're were all kinds of secrets revealed; some were surprising and others were not but it made for a very exciting story. Nothing was what it seemed and I loved every twist, turn and new revelation.
There are a ton of new characters in this book who add so much to the story as a whole. Some were really neat and lovable and some were really shady (I'm looking at you, Julian). It seemed like the characters and story expanded as the the setting did; London is a huge city so it makes sense that there would be more people surrounding Selah and affecting her life. There were also old characters who surprised me...in a good way. I'm looking forward to seeing those characters in the next book.
I loved A Grave Inheritance and am so excited to read the next book. The story is engaging, the characters are unique and there is never a dull moment. 4 stars. ...more
Even after seven books, Anna Belfrage does not disappoint! Whither Thou Goest is the latest book in the Graham Saga and follows Alex and Matthew on n Even after seven books, Anna Belfrage does not disappoint! Whither Thou Goest is the latest book in the Graham Saga and follows Alex and Matthew on new adventures.
It's hard to believe that Alex and Matthew are getting older because they still seem as energetic as they did from day one. Belfrage does a wonderful job of showing how much they still love each other and has created this ideal couple out of Alex and Matthew. I love how they still face every hurdle head on and together and that no matter where they go, mischief seems to find them.
There was a lot going on in this book but the story definitely had a slower pace to it. I appreciated that this book wasn't super action packed because after the last book, I think the characters (and the reader) needed a break! Don't get me wrong, there was action in this book but it was just on a much smaller scale. The reader got to know some of Graham children better; Sarah and David both moved to the forefront of this story and it was fun to watch them develop as characters.
Oh boy, can Belfrage write some villains. Angel Munoz was about as evil as they come and Sassafras Brown was super creepy. They aren't the Burleys, but they were both pretty bad. I'm curious about the Angel past/future connection and look forward to seeing if there is more about that in the next book. In fact, I really look forward to the next book in general. This book did a great job of getting things ready for the last book; I'm so excited to see how things turn out and can't wait to see if all of my questions will be answered.
Overall, Whither Thou Goest is another hit. Like I always say in these reviews, if you haven't read the series, go do it! I can't stress enough how much I love everything about it. 4 stars....more
The Loyalist's Luck is a wonderful sequel! It's one of the best I've read in a long time. It picks up right where The Loyalist's Wife left off and takThe Loyalist's Luck is a wonderful sequel! It's one of the best I've read in a long time. It picks up right where The Loyalist's Wife left off and takes the reader to Canada with a group of loyalists escaping the American Revolution.
Lucy continues to be an amazing character. She is hit with even more hard times in this book and still manages to be the picture of grace under pressure. She dealt with a lot of good times and a lot of bad times but she still managed to keep it together. I just love her! We saw her husband John a lot more in this book but I felt like he played second fiddle to Lucy. He was missing from chunks of the story again and it didn't seem like the reader ever really got to know him. There was a point where I was almost hoping he wouldn't come back so that Lucy could get on with her life. It's not that I didn't like him; it just seemed like I didn't know enough about him early on to care much about him. I will say that I did really like Sergeant Crawford and I felt so bad for him. He was such a kind person but he never got to have a chance to be happy (I'm not going to go into detail here for fear of spoiling things!).
The Loyalist's Luck portrays a life of constant struggle. I liked that Ms. Cougler didn't sugar-coat the events that affected her characters' lives. It was a very difficult time for people on both sides of the war and I liked that The Loyalist's Luck was an honest portrayal of what was really happening during the American Revolution. I also love seeing the Revolution from the losing side. These books are actually my first encounter with what was going on with the other side and I definitely want to read more about it.
At its heart, The Loyalist's Luck is the story of a family sticking together through good times and bad. It is a well-written, engaging story and I really look forward to its sequel. 4 stars.
Bitter Greens is one of the most impressive books I have read in a while. I hate to use the word unique to describe it because I don't think it gets Bitter Greens is one of the most impressive books I have read in a while. I hate to use the word unique to describe it because I don't think it gets at how incredibly awesome and different the story is from anything I've read. Bitter Greens is beautifully written and the author does a wonderful job of weaving together the different stories to create one cohesive and magical tale.
I had never heard of Charlotte-Rose de la Force before reading this book but she is one neat woman. I loved that she does her own thing even if it is unconventional for the time. She is over-flowing with self-confidence but at the same time has a vulnerable side that is very charming. I was rooting for her throughout the whole story. I did feel bad for her in that all of her attempts to marry were thwarted and she wasn't able to have the life she wanted because she was not from a wealthy family.
The re-telling of the Rapunzel tell was stunning. The descriptions of Selena's life in Venice and Margherita's life in the Pieta and then the tower were gorgeous. I know that Selena was kind of the villain but I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. I really liked her even though I didn't want to. Margherita was the picture of grace under pressure. She seemed to always be able to keep calm no matter what she was forced to endure. Oh and her hair...it was a little creepy at first but the way Ms. Forsyth described it, the reader could almost see how beautiful it was.
I'm going to stop now because I'm starting to sound like a fan girl but I will say that Bitter Greens is an excellent read and I highly recommend it. 4 stars.
Goddess Born is a unique mix of historical fiction and paranormal set in the early years of the American colonies. It gives the reader a nice introdu Goddess Born is a unique mix of historical fiction and paranormal set in the early years of the American colonies. It gives the reader a nice introduction into Quaker life and Celtic mythology.
Likes: I enjoyed the premise that the descendants of the goddess, Brigid, settled in America and tried to fit in with a Quaker community. There were a lot of historical details in the story that made for a fascinating read. The descriptions of every day life, including the role of the indentured servant, were some of my favorite parts. I also really liked the descriptions of Selah's work as a healer (whether using her powers or not). It was interesting to read about the different herbs she used and the different types of injuries she dealt with. I was also intrigued by the threat of witchcraft in the story and what that meant for the the main character; an accusation of witchcraft could ruin someone's life and it seemed like an accusation that anyone could make without any real basis in fact.
Characters: Selah is a really fun character. She's very different than the typical 18th century woman would have been and I found that really endearing. Her intelligence and work as a healer makes her a very unusual character (for that period) and I enjoyed watching her interact with the other characters. Nathan Crowley was a hot mess. I wanted to feel bad for him, I really did, but he was such a creep. One of the things that made this story a real page turner was that it always felt like there was a villain lurking around every corner and you never quite knew who it was. The author did a great job of not making it obvious who the real villain was and I really liked that it was a big shock at the end.
Dislikes: I wish there had been more about Selah's family's past as well as more about the otherworld and Brigid. That aspect of the story didn't really take center stage and while I understand why it didn't, I would have liked to know more. Maybe the author will go into more detail in a future book (this is the first in a trilogy). I also thought some of the things that happened at the end of the book seemed a little far-fetched but it will be interesting to see what happens in the next book.
Overall, Goddess Born is a great read that you will have trouble putting down. If all books set in the American colonies were like this one, I would read about that era a lot more often! 4 stars....more
I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Hand of Fire. I don't read books about ancient times very often so I had no idea wha I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Hand of Fire. I don't read books about ancient times very often so I had no idea what to expect from this book. Ms. Starkston did an amazing job of weaving mythology and history into a beautifully written tale of war, love and loss.
Likes: I haven't read The Iliad ( but now I really want to!) so I'm not really familiar with Achilles and the only thing I know about this time period is the Trojan horse (which is not in this story) so I was a little clueless in the beginning. Despite knowing nothing about the background to the story, there was so much to love about this book. The story itself was fantastic. It’s a tale of love during a time of war and it is a terribly romantic story. The description of Briseis’ family home, the citadel of Lyrnessos, the priestess' rites were breathtaking. I also loved the descriptions of the armor; because Briseis came from a metal-working family, there some very detailed descriptions of her father’s and Achilles’ armor and the images these descriptions evoked were absolutely beautiful. I loved the incredibly detailed Author’s Note and I’m seriously impressed by the amount of research Ms. Starkston did.
Characters: Briseis is an incredible character. I love that she is a strong female character but at the same time she doesn’t always see how strong she is. I really enjoyed the parts of the story that detailed her role as a priestess and healer. I am fascinated by the role of the healer throughout history so I loved that aspect of the story. I struggled with Achilles as a character. Achilles is supposed to be the hero of the story but he just seemed so incredibly damaged. It was almost like the knowledge of his fate was sucking the life out of him and it was hard to watch. Eurome was by far my most favorite character. I loved her kind, calming presence and she was pretty sassy too.
Dislikes: I thought the story ended rather abruptly. I was left with a lot of questions at the end and would have loved to know more.
Overall, Hand of Fire was an excellent read. Ms. Starkston's writing is wonderful and I look forward to reading more from her in the future. 4 stars. ...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 n 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. ...more
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 ofAll 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. ...more
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 staAllegra 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. ...more
Prisoner of the Queen is a refreshing look at the life of Katherine Grey. For the first time, she is portrayed as a strong, intelligent woman instead Prisoner of the Queen is a refreshing look at the life of Katherine Grey. For the first time, she is portrayed as a strong, intelligent woman instead of as a foolish and naive girl. I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Knight's unique portrayal of this fascinating historical figure.
Likes: In addition to Knight's portrayal of Katherine, I also thoroughly enjoyed the cast of characters. There were plenty of familiar faces but there were some less familiar characters who played big roles in the story. Both the Duchess of Somerset and the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk were wonderful characters and I liked getting to know them and see their perspectives. I especially liked the Duchess of Somerset; she was so cold and distant but at the same time she really did care about her children and doing what was right for her family. I definitely want to read more about her in the future.
Dislikes: This was truly Katherine's story so I understand why some of her family didn't play huge roles in the story but I did kind of miss seeing Mary Grey as a character. That was probably the only thing I found lacking with the story.
I know the story of Katherine Grey and her demise but despite knowing how it would end, Ms. Knight's depiction of the events of Katherine's life kept me interested from beginning to end. The combination of her portrayal of Katherine with a well-written narrative made Prisoner of the Queen a very compelling read. 3 1/2 stars....more