Mini Reviews of Summer 2016

Mystery, drama, oh my!

Newest novel by Lynn Austin

Book three in the Restoration Chronicles!

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Historical fiction and Biblical fiction, reviewing since 2008

My epiphany of 2015

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Best of 2015

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Jan 28, 2016

Lament for a Lost Lover by Philippa Carr


Lament for a Lost Lover by Philippa Carr
Various editions, circa 1977
Daughters of England Series, book 5
My previous reviews from this series

I edited this synopsis myself to avoid spoilers:
 Arabella Tolsworthy
Against the background of an England torn by civil war, religious persecution, and political treachery in the turbulent era of Cromwell and the Stuart Restoration, Philippa Carr has set the passionate story of Arabella Tolworthy, whose loves and destiny are inextricably linked to the plight of her nation.
The dethroned Charles I had met the executioner's ax with regal calm, and as Oliver Cromwell tightened his Puritan grip on English church and state, thousands of royalists fled their confiscated lands. Among them was young Arabella, her family seeking safe harbor in France where they hoped to serve the exiled royal heir, Charles II. Separated from her parents, confronted by the unaccustomed hardships of political banishment, she finds solace in the company or the ravishing and charismatic actress, Harriet Main.
Little does Arabella suspect the threat Harriet will pose to her future happiness.
Nor does she envision what lies ahead when dashing Edwin Eversleigh, Cavalier and heir to a titular fortune, makes her his bride after a whirlwind courtship. For in the deceptive peace following Parliament's Restoration of the Crown,  Arabella returns to England bearing a new scion of the Eversleigh estate.
With its skillful narrative, Lament for a Lost Lover is a worthy and engrossing successor to the previous novels of the Daughters of England saga.

This is the fifth Carr book I've read, which is a series written under a pseudonym of Jean Plaidy/Eleanor Hibbert. My fellow Carr reader and I had a mini read along as we could not wait to get to the next book in the Daughters of England series after finishing book 4, Saraband for Two Sisters. The story picks up with the next generation, and Arabella does not disappoint. What was a pivotal character in this one, the witchy one again - was Harriet. Once Harriet comes along, poor Arabella doesn't know which way was up. She had a fascination for the dramatic Harriet and Arabella lets herself be led around like a marionette. It was wicked fun to watch and while the Gothic tones were minimal in this one, there was still a sinister something out there that was a dun dun dunnnn waiting to happen.

I really enjoy these novels in spite of the formulaic plots centered around marriage, birth and death. The characters are the spice of the story, and there are many times the reader could be screaming at the character to open your eyes! I loved how the historical details were a little more in depth with this novel as the focus was always on whether Charles could have his English Crown back.The London Fire and the plague also make their appearance, and how it affects Arabella is part of the novel.

The next novel looks completely totally delish and I cannot wait to read book six, The Love Child. I need to make sure my life is not too crazy because I want to be able to enjoy that one, too! Come visit our Goodreads group for more read alongs on Jean Plaidy's works.

Jan 27, 2016

Sage's Eyes by V.C. Andrews



Sage's Eyes by V.C. Andrews
Simon and Schuster, January 26 2016
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you.
Burton Book Review Rating:3 Stars


From V.C. Andrews, bestselling author of Flowers in the Attic (the first in a series of Lifetime movie events about the Dollanganger family), comes the tale of a young girl kept under the watchful eye of her adoptive parents, as if they fear who—or what—she’ll become… Sixteen-year-old Sage is a lonely child. Her adoptive parents watch her obsessively, as if studying her for warning signs of…something. And maybe they’re right to—even she can’t make sense of the strange things she sees and hears. She possesses knowledge that other teenagers don’t, that her parents and teachers—no adult—could possibly have. So when Sage finally makes a friend who understands her alarming gift, he becomes her confidant, a precarious link to the truth about who she really is. For Sage and the alluring new boy at school share many things in common. Perhaps, they’ll learn, far too many things.

This newest novel from the ghostwriter for the V.C. Andrews estate has a very intriguing premise. Sage is struggling to fit in high school with her friends, as she seems wise beyond her years. She is gorgeous too, and the boys want her so much that the girls envy her. Her parents treat her in an odd way, something of over-protective gone weird. They act strangely and makes Sage realize that she is different than others even where family is concerned. The bulk of the story is how Sage interacts with others as she slowly discovers new things about herself and her 'abilities'. When the new hot kid comes to town, things get interesting. Finally the ending comes and we figure out why Sage has different abilities, and why her parents have been sheltering her.

While the story was intriguing enough to make me want to find out what happens to Sage, there were times that it was too over-thought. Told in a first person narrative, there was a lot of "I think.. I feel.. I wonder" and not a lot of action going on. The narratives could become cumbersome and this was my biggest complaint of the novel with the next being "really? that's it?" at the finale.

As a whole, it was pretty tame, and suitable for young readers - but die hard fans of V.C. Andrews will likely be disappointed. There is not a lot of a suspense feel, just more like a small mystery waiting to be solved. The Gothic Evil Tones of vintage V.C. Andrews is missing.


Jan 26, 2016

Mary Magdalene by Diana Wallis Taylor




Mary Magdalene: A Novel by Diana Wallis Taylor
published June 2012 by Revell
personal kindle copy
Burton Book Review Rating:4 stars

Long maligned as a prostitute or a woman of questionable reputation, Mary Magdalene's murky story seems lost to the sands of time. Now a portrait of this enigmatic woman comes to life in the hands of an imaginative master storyteller. Diana Wallis Taylor's Mary is a woman devastated by circumstances beyond her control and plagued with terrifying dreams--until she has a life-changing confrontation with the Savior.
 Lovers of historical and biblical fiction will find this creative telling of Mary's story utterly original and respectful as it opens their eyes to the redeeming work of Christ in the lives of those who follow him.

This was a inspired story about Mary of Magdala. It focuses on her life primarily until the Messiah arrives and then she follows Him, bringing the focus more on what she witnessed. I felt like the tone changed with that and the whole build up for empathizing Mary seemed to be ignored until the final chapters.

The beginning of the novel was an imagined story of what life could have like for Mary as someone who was "possessed" or not in control of her thoughts. Through this she was still portrayed as a simple and humble young lady, wishing for peace in her life. The characters that were created in the novel really did a nice job of supporting the story line and helped to flesh out the time line that the author was moving through.

 I enjoyed it fully but felt the last third wasn't as good as the first parts. I read the novel fairly quickly and would still of course recommend it to those interested in biblical fiction. I am looking forward to reading more from Diana Wallis Taylor, perhaps Martha will be the next from her that I will get to.