Posted in fiction, Historical Fiction Book Reviews, Romance

Start of a Series Book Review: Into the Wilderness

Book One

Into the Wilderness by Sara Donatti. This is described as a ambitious sequel to one of my favorite classics The Last of the Mohiacns, though you don’t need to read that to read this. Written back in 1998, after Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, this is one of my top five historical fiction romance books. Unlike Outlander, this doesn’t feature a time travel element, however it is directly linked to the series, as within the halfway point of book one, Clair Fraiser is outright mentioned for at least six pages as ‘the White Witch’. Its a nod to one of the biggest romance series of all time, that’s so well known it became a hit series on Hulu a few years back.

The story begins with Elizabeth, a spinster wishing to teach school in Paradise. But there’s problems. For one thing, her family is cash poor thanks to her brother’s gambling debts. For another, her father-the Judge-wishes her to marry Dr. Richard Todd. But she’s firm in remaining a spinster…until she meets Nathanial Bonner, direct descendant of Daniel (Dan’l) Boone. She is wary around him, unsure of what to expect of him-or this new land so rife with both bounty and troubles. Slavery is still legal. No one’s at first eager for a schoolmarm, worried more about cost and that what she teaches will not be useful to the students, apart from math or geography, reading or writing. She fights for her school, as well as her freedom in not to marry.

There’s lots of other problems scattered throughout the book. Someone attempting to run Nathanial and his people off of Lake in the Clouds, as they don’t want Indians on their territory. Rougher weather than usual settling in. A dangerous threat looming. And the potential for marriage in Elizabeth’s future, despite her wishes being made clear to her father. She struggles to grow used to her new home in Paradise, while the people struggle with the fact she’s not the spoiled princess they thought she’d be.

The story spans eight hundred plus pages, and evolves for at least six more books. I’d read book one at least ten times throughout the last fifteen years, and I’m still drawn in to the whole of it. Its one of my most favorite historical romances that I’d read in my life, and I am sincerely hoping it gets its own television series being linked with Outlander so. I cannot rate this highly enough, if you want fiction with depth, history, and romance as well as adventure, then I recommend picking up this book. You won’t regret doing so.

Final Rating: 6/5 stars

Posted in Historical Fiction Book Reviews, Romance

Netgalley Review: The Trouble We Keep

The Trouble We Keep

Hello friends,

The Trouble We Keep by Cara Devlin is a historical second chance romance. It has a strong start, and keeps up the pace throughout the entire book. I liked the main character, Emma, as she strives to survive pregnant, alone and searching for her wayward brother. While this was christian fiction, it didn’t have hardly any of the religious praying going on that I’m used to in christian fiction, and read more like a romantic western than anything else, a fact that surprised and delighted me. The little bit of christianity I did see wasn’t overpowering in regards to the story, and tied in neatly with the era that the characters were in.

I loved the author’s writing style of this; how it flowed, and made the characters have real depth to them. Jo, Ms. Lewis, and Dean all felt lifelike. I loved the survival elements, how realistic everything read. I sat and read this in two hours, and am now definitely adding this author to my favorites list, and searching out for more of her books.

If you’re looking for a good survival story about strong female characters determined to survive no matter what even while pregnant, then I suggest reading this. Emma doesn’t back down from a challenge, and she definitely gives as good as she gets. My hat goes off to the author-if I had a hat like the fine ladies in this book that is. Five stars, and my thanks to the publisher for granting me an arc of this delightful novel.

Until next time,
Pass Me That Book

Posted in Historical Fiction Book Reviews

Netgalley Review: On Wilder Seas

On Wilder Seas

On Wilder Seas by Nikki Marmery is a strange yet intriguing retelling of the Golden Hind. I don’t know anything about the original story, and the book itself was strongly written, with realistic characters, and a fascinating history of the ship and the people on it.

In truth, I’m unsure of how to write this review. The story, while well written, didn’t keep my interest after about half way through the book. It felt bogged down by a lot of details that I just wasn’t interested in. The women were strong, but the slavery aspects, as well as the rest of it, did not appeal to me in the slightest. I managed a solid sixty percent of the book before giving up. I wanted to like it more than I did. It had a strong start. It had strong characters, a plot, and plenty of high sea adventure. But there’s a fair bit of thievery, rape, and slavery within the book, and it just wasn’t right for my mood. That’s a ‘me’ problem. Not a story problem.

A lone woman on the high seas, Maria was a strong character one could easily identify with in her determination in terms of surviving the harsh environments with almost nothing to her name. With only a boy for friendship, and a man that employed her, the story was captivating…

I just lost interest in it.

My apologies to the author, and I’m giving this a solid three stars.

Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book

Posted in Historical Fiction Book Reviews, Young Adult Book Reviews

Book Review: Hawksmaid

Hawksmaid

Hello friends,

Hawksmaid by Kathryn Lasky is a retelling of Robin Hood and Maid Marion.

A children’s fiction story of Maid Marion, this was not at all what I was hoping for it to be, in that while it contained action and plot, it also contained Christianity and praying every few chapters. I liked the writing in regards to the Hawks and raising birds in general, and how Matty was a strong girl throughout the story, surviving harsh environments, however I felt the story wasn’t quite meant for me, and that younger audiences would definitely appreciate it more.

I appreciated the writing, and characters, however I doubt that I’ll come back to this book again in the future. Another book that’s been on my TBR shelf for years, I’m pleased at finally getting around to reading it, and getting it off the pile at last.

3 out of 5 stars.

Until next time,

Pass Me That Book

 

Posted in Historical Fiction Book Reviews

Book Review: DNF’d

Valentine

Hello friends,

Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore was a novel that I picked this up, and read three chapters, before I DNF’d it. The writing was good. Really, really excellent. But the story itself was not meant for me, as I was most definitely not the right target audience at this point and time.

Violent, gritty, the writing was easily some of my favorite; however I disliked the topic of the story, and the way it set up, in terms of justice, retribution, and the way things evolved. Three chapters probably isn’t fair, but I was hoping for something far more centered around survival out in the wilderness, than vengeance and graphic violence. Maybe I’ll pick it up again in another setting, but for now, it was just a bit too dark hearted for the mood that I was craving in terms of a good survival story.

A solid 3 stars.

Until later,

Pass Me That Book

Posted in Fantasy Book Reviews, Historical Fiction Book Reviews

Book Review: The Court of Miracles

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Hello friends,

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant is a retelling of Les Miserable with magical elements, an enormous cast of characters, and a revolution. There are many different courts one can attend within this gorgeously filled, world building fast paced plot. The characters are each unique and intriguing. There are nods towards Les Miserable, but it’s been so long since I read Les Mes that I’ve likely missed even more appreciative nods towards the work.

This book was long. It was complex. It had plot, it had depth, and it had characters that I fell hard for. It took a solid week to read this book, and that was only because I lingered over it for days, relishing in the excellent fantasy retelling. Most retellings don’t impress me these days, with a few rare exceptions thrown in. This is an exception. I adored this book. I wish to own this book. I’ll probably buy a hardcover of this book.

“Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.”
~As quoted from Goodreads

Now, while I’ve yet to read Six of Crows, I have read Leigh Bardugo, and this is a safe comparison to make, as I also adore Leigh Bardugo’s crafting into world building. One would be pleased at the historical elements flung into this book, along with the epic fantasy twists and turns, the thieves, the murderers, the magic that revolves around the various courts. I’d love to dive into the courts, but I barely recall most of them, and I desperately need to do a re-read, take notes, and keep up with characters of whose alive and whose not. I warn readers, do not get attached. That could prove fatal to you, should you do so.

There’s a spark of romance within the pages as well, along with myths thrown in I think, if I recall correctly. It’s admittedly been a bit since I’ve read the book, and as stated above, I need a reread. However, the story is still fresh in my mind enough that I feel safe in giving it 5/5 stars. I highly recommend for all fans of retellings, and that of historical fiction, or classics in general. Please read this. You won’t regret it.

Until next time,
Pass Me That Book

Posted in Historical Fiction Book Reviews

Netgalley Review: For Love and Country

ForLoveandCountry

Hello friends,

For Love and Country by Candace Waters is a strong female character driven historical novel centered around the WAVES program and Pearl Harbor. While overall I found the plot fascinating, I also found several issues in this book that I wasn’t expecting to have encountered. This book is very Christian based. There’s praying every few chapters, an always when Charlotte Palmer, our heroine, prays she seems to be able to get what she wants, even if it takes a bit in doing so. She’s a ‘proper rich girl’ and though I admired her for leaving her home, she seemed woefully ignorant about a lot of things around the world, not just the war. Maggie was far more interesting to me, as a whole, and I identified with her a fair bit.

Men treated women harshly back then, I understand, and it hasn’t gotten much better if my mother being a car mechanic and carpenter is anything to go by. So this is accurate, but a lot of the men’s comments, and the fact that she got punished for the most minor of infractions is infuriating. I get that was what the author was aiming for, and applaud her dedication to the accuracy of her research in terms of writing this book. Even so, I despised a fair few male characters in this book.

I did like Charlotte, but she seemed to eager to please in terms of those that surrounded her. I wanted more from the story, and the way she handled Eugene could have been handled better, in my opinion. Overall the story was captivating, despite several issues that I had as a person. Others might not have the same issues. 4 solid stars for a new to me author, and I’ll definitely be keeping an interest in any of her future works.

Until next time,
Pass Me That Book

Posted in Historical Fiction Book Reviews

Arc Review: The Fortunate Ones

The Fortunate Ones

Title: The Fortunate Ones
Author: Catherine Hokin
Series: Stand Alone
Genre: Adult Fiction, Historical
Publisher: Bookouture
Page Count: 400
Type of Book: Arc, Kindle Ebook
Received: Netgalley
Review Word Count: 500
Rated: 4/5 stars
Notes: Belated review, but I’m trying to catch up on my backlog of arcs!

The Fortunate Ones was a spellbinding tale of political strife during Hitler’s reign, and it what it meant to survive in the harsh conditions where food was scarce, medicine was a joke, and war was looming on the horizon or already at their front door.

Felix is just a normal young man attempting to survive, in a place that doesn’t seem to care overmuch how he might fare. Being a prisoner in a camp, his future appears bleak until he meets Inge…a woman who tells him that her name is Hannah. He believes her a prisoner, and in a way she is one, having been forced through an arranged marriage to a monster who does horrific experiments on the prisoners within the camp. Yet she’s unaware of such, kept safe at home where her husband’s abuse speaks volumes.

Inge is a brave woman, though I preferred Felix’s side of the story in all honesty. While both perspectives were of interest, there were points in the story that seemed to drag. I liked how the ending wrapped up, and I rather enjoyed the author’s writing style overall, despite where parts of the story balked. I’ll definitely be checking out more by this author in the future, and I’m awarding 4.5 out of 5 stars for a wonderful trip through WWII. Though several moments were bleak and grim, the story itself was a good one, and recommended for fans of that time period.

Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book

Posted in Historical Fiction Book Reviews, Romance

Book Review: The Winter Witch

 

The Winter Witch

Title: The Winter Witch
Author: Paula Brackston
Series: Book 1
Genre: Adult Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
Page Count: 400
Received: Library
Type of Book: Paperback, Physical Copy, Library Loan
Review Word Count: 500
Rated: 3.5/5 stars
Notes: I loved the writing style, but the depressing mood the story set was not what I was after at all.

The Winter Witch is a book that’s been on my radar to read for a couple years now, and I’m pleased I finally got it done. The cover is one of my favorites, it’s a perfect holiday read, and the atmospheric writing and characters are beautiful and well wrought. With an air of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, I was certain that this would be a new favorite.

Fledgling witch Morgana must defend her love, her home, and her life in this enthralling tale perfect for fans of Discovery of Witches

In her small early nineteenth century Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana, who has not spoken since she was a young girl. Her silence is a mystery, as well as her magic. Concerned for her safety, her mother is anxious to see her married, and Cai Jenkins, a widower from the far hills, seems the best choice.

After her wedding, Morgana is heartbroken at leaving her mother, and wary of this man, whom she does not know, and who will take her away to begin a new life. But she soon falls in love with Cai’s farm and the wild mountains that surround it. Cai works to understand the beautiful, half-tamed creature he has chosen for a bride, and slowly, he begins to win Morgana’s affections. It’s not long, however, before her strangeness begins to be remarked upon in her new village. A dark force is at work there—a person who will stop at nothing to turn the townspeople against Morgana. Forced to defend her home, her man, and herself, Morgana must learn to harness her power, or she will lose everything.

-Summary as seen on Goodreads

This, however, was rather depressing, and almost lax in that there wasn’t hardly anything going on. I liked Morgana a lot, and I liked that the character had chosen to be mute. I rarely find that in adult fiction, and I feel as though it were well handled. But the sheer amount of bullying, hateful and cruel comments, and general disregard for her intelligent simply because she chose not to speak was a serious mood killer at times. I appreciate the author attempting to be historically accurate with this, and I rather enjoyed the descriptive scenes of passages throughout the book. It alternated between character povs as well, but I didn’t mind overmuch, as it neatly flowed throughout the story.

Overall, I’m giving this a 3.5 raising it to 4 stars out of 5. Strong writing, great main characters…if it wasn’t just so depressing and moody for Morgana, I might have enjoyed it more. I might try the author again in the future. Strongly recommend that the reader keeps a box of tissues on hand for possible triggers in regards to abuse.

Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book

Posted in Historical Fiction Book Reviews, Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews

Book Review: Grave Expectations

Grave Expectations

Title: Grave Expectations
Author: Heather Redmond
Series: Book 2
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books
Page Count: 400
Type of Book: Arc, Kindle Ebook
Received: Publisher, Netgalley
Review Word Count: 500
Rated: 5/5 stars
Notes: I haven’t read book one, but it seems you don’t need to in order to read book two, thankfully.

This was a fun read, and worthy of Dickens. I really think he would enjoy this series, as it’s entertaining, well written, and with such strong characters. With plenty of excitement to go around from women falling out of windows by accident to discovering corpses, this mystery will definitely delight readers fond of historical fiction and who-dun-it’s.

I’m determined to get book one so that I can fill in some of the gaps. I feel it would at least help me figure out how Kate and Charles met, and why they’re so enamored with each other-he seems to treat her nicely enough, but also whenever she wants to go do something dangerous he’s all “now, now, let’s not be hasty, you’re a woman you must stay behind where it’s safe” which seems a bit sexist, though that was how it was during those times, I can’t fault him too much for that. It comes off more romantic as well, instead of sexist, because while he’s very telling in what she does, he’s not an asshole about it.

Charles is an overall good guy, he helps others that needs it, goes to those who are in danger and try to rescue them, and is generally the hero of the story. Kate is a kind girl who tries to help as much as she possibly can. There’s plenty for writers to like about this too, with passages of Charles struggling to come up with rhymes or lines for songs or sketches. And there’s one nod that I rather enjoyed about a guy suggesting Charles write books and Charles vehemently in denial about anyone buying anything he writes. Hehe. If only you knew Charles.

The mystery itself wasn’t hard to solve, though it was entertaining. All the clues were there, and with plenty of suspects you have chances in guessing wrong. There’s thieves, a murdered woman, and a dreadful tenant within these pages that all wind up getting their mysteries solved in the end, with a couple of harrowing moments for Mr. Dickens.

The book does leave it rather open for a sequel to follow through, so I’m sure when it comes out I’ll request it having thoroughly enjoyed this one. Overall, I’m giving this 4.5 out of 5 stars, rounding it up to 5/5 stars. I really like this author’s writing style, and I’m irate that I left it sitting in my kindle so long.
Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book