Posts Tagged ‘historical fiction’


Book Review: ‘Gifts of War’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Gifts of War: A Novel – Mackenzie Ford (Historical Fiction)

When my Gifts of War ARC arrived in the mail, I wasn’t quite sure what to think… after reading the back cover copy, I thought “why the heck did I request THIS?”. Clearly the promo material for the book made it sound more exciting than what was written on the back cover. World War I? A man’s lost love? Another man & his quest to make a life with a certain woman during the war? *snooooooze* So, guess what I did? I put the book away & avoided it as long as I could. And I do mean as long as I could.

Finally, guilt got the better of me, and I picked it up. “Why are you reading that?” my husband asked, “Read something you’ll like, don’t waste your time.” But I had an obligation to fulfill, so I read it. And you know what? Even though it wasn’t my favorite kind of book, it kept me reading, and that has to say something.

On the whole, I didn’t really like the ending, but it made sense when I read the last page… the very last page, which changed everything for me. I don’t want to give it away, but that final page – as a writer and as a reader – made me gasp and say “Oh! How fascinating!” and left me with a good, warm feeling toward the book.

If you enjoy historical fiction, I think you’ll love Gifts of War. I really do. It has suspense, romance, and plenty of history from a war we often learn very little about (at least in the Canadian school system, we tend to focus on WWII). I liked learning more about WWI, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to someone whose reading habits lean toward historical fiction.

Rating: 3.5 coffees out of 5

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Book Review: ‘Lady of Milkweed Manor’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Lady of Milkweed Manor – Julie Klassen (Historical Fiction)

This is definitely not my usual kind of ‘historical fiction’… regency ladies in their poufy dresses, ‘proper’ speech & mannerisms, etc… but there I was at the bookstore spending the church budget on new books for the library, and the woman ringing me up at the till saw that I had this book & the author’s next one in the stack, and promptly began gushing about them. She was so enthusiastic about this author that I found myself saying “well, I guess I’ll have to try them” and agreeing to come back and let her know what I thought. Well, since that’s the only Christian bookstore in town, and I still have more cash in the library budget, I figured it would be awfully hard to avoid her… and I just knew I’d feel guilty if she asked me what I thought and I had to admit I wasn’t really interested in reading the books after all. Especially when she was so excited about them… so, when I got home, I picked up Lady of Milkweed Manor and began reading… and read some more… and kept reading… and finally had to go to bed. The next morning, I… uh… didn’t start work until I’d sat down and finished reading the book. Oops.

“Huh,” I thought, “Guess it was worth my time after all…” And so, I’ve placed the second book on the TBR list. I won’t say a whole lot more about it – I don’t want to give the plot away, but if you’re interested, there are several good reviews on LT that give a bit more detail. I was glad I read it without knowing anything about the plot, probably since I might not have bothered otherwise. It was a pleasant surprise, and very well written for a first novel.

And I’ll admit it… I was actually bawling my eyes out near the end (and I think mumbling “no, no, NO!” as I read), when the author made me think something was going to happen/had happened that actually didn’t. My goodness… skillfully done. Recommended, even to those who don’t usually like this kind of regency-style historical fiction. Guess I learned a little something about my literary tastes with this one!

Rating: 4 coffees out of 5

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Book Review: Rogue Angel & Shadow of Colossus

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

5) Rogue Angel: Destiny – Alex Archer (Adventure, though labeled Sci-Fi)

Okay, so… I saw this in the bookstore and picked it up for a laugh. The premise? A stunningly beautiful, conveniently large-chested woman – who also was raised in an orphanage by nuns – spends her days as an archaeologist. She’s well trained, brilliant, loves to read, but also knows how to kick some serious butt (how? did the nuns teach her???). Naturally, she’s unlucky in love. It also just so happens that Joan of Arc’s sword has “chosen” her to be its new bearer… and she can call upon it to appear and disappear at will.

Sound like a strange amalgamation of Tomb Raider & Witchblade??? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. In fact, I’m pretty sure Archer was reading his comic books one day and said to himself: “Dude… what if Tomb Raider AND Witchblade were like… part of the same PERSON??? Awwwwesome….”

That said… I liked the book. Really, really liked it. Yes, it was cliche/corny/predictable/ridiculous… but it was *fun*. As long as you were willing to suspend disbelief while reading, it was a great guilty pleasure read, full of action, fighting, silly history (though it was consistent!), and a villain that’s so one-dimensional you HAVE to hate him. And, perhaps most of all, I appreciated that Archer got one thing right that so many people fail to realize: archaeologists don’t make money doing archaeology. Our heroine has to write books, appear on TV shows about mythical creatures, and teach seminars to make the money she needs to live & fund her digs. THANK YOU, Alex Archer.

Anyway, I admit: I already have the next 2 books in the series lined up to go. What can I say? I like fun books.

Rating: 4 coffees out of 5

6) Shadow of Colossus: A Seven Wonders Novel – T.L. Higley (Historical Fiction)

Interesting… I thought of writing a series based around the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World quite awhile ago, but hey, looks like someone beat me to it. But that’s alright! It wasn’t half bad, and it seems like Higley does her research well. I was mostly interested in reading this to find historical errors (I’m horrible, I know, but being trained in Classical Studies does this to me), and was pleasantly surprised when I didn’t catch any that detracted from the story.

The novel is set in ancient Greece – the island of Rhodes, to be specific – and focuses on one particular hetaera and her situation. The story keeps the action moving forward most of the time, with the occasional slowdown for us to gain insight into Tessa’s thoughts and world, which keep her under strict social regulations (though she – and the hetaerae in general – had much more freedom than any other Greek woman, historically speaking). There is a love interest, but it isn’t forced, which I appreciated. There are several pages where a Jewish man shares his faith in Yahweh with the main character that may seem slightly contrived to some, but it seems to work with this story in particular. It would have been rare and unlikely, but not impossible.

The novel was an easy read, not particularly complex, but held my interest enough to finish it in an afternoon. A worthwhile diversion.

Rating: 3 coffees out of 5

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