Elysium

Who Is to Blame? A Russian Riddle by Jane Marlow

Who Is to Blame?: A Russian Riddle - Jane Marlow

The book is set in the 1800s before the emancipation of the serfs and follows Count Stepan Maximov and Elizaveta who is a peasant.

Elizaveta loves her childhood friend but they can’t marry because marrying your godparents’ child can’t happen. Instead, she has to marry a man she knows is a violent one and the marriage isn’t a happy one. But it seems like abusiveness kinda runs in Ermak’s family and Elizaveta’s sister-in-laws aren’t having any more luck in their lives.

Maximov’s lost their child and Stepan’s wife never got over her grief and it starts to affect their marriage too. Stepan struggles to run the estate, to find new ways to grow and develop it but new things takes time. In the latter part, we see more of Anton, the eldest Maximov son who spends most of his time drinking and playing cards.

I don’t really know what to say about this. I loved the book and was pleasantly surprised how good it was. It’s always hardest to write about a book you like… I just wanted to keep reading and wanting to know what happens next!

You can see that the author has done her research and there are lots of little details but it’s well written in the story.

We get to see how disconnected the nobility and the peasants were and had so little contact with each other. Nobility thought that the peasants should be thankful because they are being taken care of…. By working them to death yet they were seen as just lazy…

I wanted to slap Anton so many times that I’m not surprised that Stepan was so frustrated with him. He did change his ways a bit in the end but I would like to know if he manages to really change. But I think there is next book coming so I’m hoping we’ll see that.

Roma Amor by Sherry Christie

Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula's Rome - Sherry Christie

Marcus Carinna isn’t happy when his father orders him to leave the army life behind and come back to Rome and befriend the new Caesar Caligula. Three years ago Marcus’ brother (and Caligula’s best friend) committed suicide after charged with treason and Marcus hasn’t forgiven his father that he let it happen. It’s after he becomes Caligula’s friend he starts to unravel old family secrets.

 

I liked Marcus who was so devoted to learning the truth about his brother’s death. He had earned quite a reputation in Rome but seemed committed to reforming his name and to live up to his father’s expectations. When Marcus develops an interest in the Marcomanni Priestess called Aurima, his father is less than pleased.

 

I really liked Aurima and the chapters with the so-called barbarians. We see that women had much more rights in their life than the Roman women. I’ve never read books with Caligula with in it so this was new. Didn’t really make me like Romans more than usually…

 

In the end, I really loved this and it was quite a quick read too.

An Address in Amsterdam by Mary Dingee Fillmore

An Address in Amsterdam: A Novel - Mary Dingee Fillmore

Rachel is 18 when the Nazis invade Holland. Soon after she joins the Dutch resistance by delivering letters and false documents. She tries to change her father’s mind about going into hiding but he doesn’t believe Nazi’s would actually harm people, especially German born like himself.
When the war breaks out, Rachel falls in love with Michel who turns out to be a resistance member. She wants to marry him but doesn’t believe that her parents would approve her relationship with a Gentile.

I liked to see how Rachel changed from a rather naïve schoolgirl into a resistance member living a dangerous life. At the start we see the Nazis behaving quite well but the situation started to worsen suddenly. I haven’t read books where it’s been told that things were moderately ok at first. Then there was this huge change in the attitude of all people.

I didn’t get Rachel’s father who just refused to see what was going on. I mean the situation had been horrible for some time before he even started to think about going into hiding.

The first half of the book is told from Rachel’s point of view but then it changed in the second half. In there we have Rachel’s, her parents and, if I remember correctly, Rolf’s. Rolf was Michel’s friend who also worked in the resistance and came into hiding with them. I didn’t see the point of that but oh well.

I would have liked to know what happened to them. I didn’t see the point of getting invested in these people and then not to know if they made it through the war.

Overall I enjoyed the book and I liked to read about the resistance work.

Days of Sun and Glory by Anna Belfrage

Days of Sun and Glory: The King's Greatest Enemy #2 - Anna Belfrage

It was great to see that Adam and Kit have managed to get such a happy marriage despite the way it started. It’s not all happy times but they’re still there for each other and I love their relationship.

 

I wasn’t a fan of Mortimer in book 1 and I’m still not but I was waiting to see how Adam would feel about the future and Mortimer’s role in it. It seems Adam has chosen prince Edward’s side and I’m glad about that. I wonder how that will go in the future.

 

I was so glad that Joan didn’t just forgive her husband all the misery he had cost her. I’ve always wondered what she thought about all that Mortimer was doing and his affair with the queen.

 

I liked the future Edward III and I hope we’ll see much more about him in the next book. I felt bad for Hugh Despenser but then again I have a soft spot for him. This isn’t my view of him in the book but it worked here.

 

Another great book by Anna Belfrage and this was even better than the previous book. I just wanted to keep reading! I really loved this and I can’t wait for the next book.

Karolina's Twins by Ronald H. Balson

Karolina's Twins - Ronald H. Balson

Lena Woodward is a Holocaust survivor who wants to fulfill a promise she made to her friend over 70 years ago. She wants to find her friends twins that were lost during the war in a Nazi occupied Poland. She hires Liam Taggert and Catherine Lockhart to solve the case but Lena’s son isn’t happy about the plan. He thinks his mother is delusional and senile and wants guardianship over Len’s matters.

Even though this is the third book in a series, it works fine as a stand-alone. It was a sad book but also very good. I didn’t want to put the book down but keep reading!
We have two timelines: Modern day where Lena tells the story to Catherine and Liam, and past where we follow Lena during the war. I thought it was easy to follow what timeline we were but I’ve read that many thought was messy. 

I liked Lena, Catherine and Liam but Lena’s son Arthur was a jerk. He was just concerned with his inheritance and not his mother’s wellbeing. 

I loved this and I’ll have to read the previous books too.

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of Magic) - V E Schwab

I usually write the review right after reading the book and now it’s been some time I finished but still wanted to write few things about it.

First of all, that ending was evil! And it’s so long before book 3 comes out. I just hate cliffies…

I’m still not a huge fan of Lila. She’s bit less annoying here than in the last book but still. She’s arrogant and too reckless without thinking if anyone else gets hurt. She meets the pirate captain Alucard whom I liked. Hope we see more of him in the future. 

Rhy and Kell aren’t doing too well after the events in the last book. Kell is out of favor with the king and queen. I really wanted to hit them, king and queen I mean.

Rarely book 2 is as good as book 1 but this really was. Loved this and can’t wait for book 3. I need book 3!

Time and Regret by M.K. Tod

Time and Regret - M.K. Tod

The book alternates between Martin’s life during WWI and his granddaughter Grace’s life in early 1990s. Grace is recently divorced with two kids who’s trying to get her life back together. When she discovers her grandfather’s old war diaries and a message with a puzzle in her attic, she decides to visit the war sites in France.

I don’t remember if I’ve read books set in WWI before, it’ usually WWII so this was a great change. Although reading Martin’s diary entries it could have been set in either war. I’m not usually fan of letters in books and mostly just skip them but here it worked.

I liked both Grace and Martin and couldn’t choose which POV I liked better which is rare. Martin was so eager to go to war but it soon turns into bitterness and rage as the war goes on. The war changed him forever and it wasn’t easy to come back and live with a survivor’s guilt.

I wasn’t huge fan of Pierre. He was a nice guy and it was great that Grace found him but I don’t know. I think he was boring and that they had no chemistry between them.

I didn’t understand Grace’s grandmother Cynthia’s coldness towards her. I wonder what happened to her because she wasn’t like that in Martin’s diaries. I would have liked to learn more about her.

This was my first book by the author and it definitely won’t be the last. I really loved this book and look forward reading more from her.

The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose

The Secret Language of Stones: A Novel (The Daughters of La Lune) - M.J. Rose

This is second book in a series but works well as a stand-alone too.

The book follows Opaline Duplessi who is the daughter of Sandrine from the previous book. She’s a jeweler who during the war makes talismans for women who have lost their loved ones in the war. She hears things through the stones and can give their last word to their loved ones.

Opaline just want’s to be normal and isn’t too happy with La Lune gifts she has. She doesn’t want her mother to teach her any magic and I didn’t get what her problem was with her mother. There were some issues between Opaline and Sandrine and I would have liked to learn more about that.

One time she makes a talisman for a woman who’s lost her son. Usually when she speaks with the dead through the stones, the dead leave her right away. But Jean Luc keeps speaking with her for a long time, and Opaline starts to fall in love with her ghost lover. I think it went on too and started to feel bit weird.

I liked Opaline, she’s loveable and kind, but at times I felt fustraited with her lack of wanting to learn about the magic she posses.

While I loved this book, it did not captivate me as much as The Witch of Painted Sorrows. Can’t really say why that is but there you go. But all in all, I loved this book and would have wanted to know what happens next. I look forward to the next book!

The Lord of Ireland (The Fifth Knight Series) - E.M. Powell

The book starts after a decade after the last book ended. The Palmers have settled in their life away from the court, but then King Henry summons Benedict to look after his son John on his campaign in Ireland. Theodosia is supposed to stay at home but however she finds her way into Ireland while posing as a nun.

Again I wish I had read the first book because I want to know how Theodosia and Benedict met. And why Theodosia is such a secret since Henry isn’t known for being faithful husband… But the books stand well as a stand-alone too.

I really liked how John and Hugh de Lacy were portrayed. I don’t think I’ve read books featuring de Lacy so it was great to have him here. Not many books concentrates on John’s Ireland campaign so this was a fun change.

There is less mystery here but lots of action and no dull moments. Looking forward to read the next book!

Portrait of Conspiracy

Portrait of Conspiracy - Donna Russo Morin The book follows 5 women who want to be artists in a time when it was impossible. One of their friends goes missing and when Giuliano de Medici has been murdered the city goes into chaos. Then women get help from Leonardo Da Vinci, trying to find their friend.

I really loved this book and it was hard to put down. I just wanted to know what happens next!

The women all have different kind of lives with their secrets but their love of arts unites them. I loved that while Leonardo Da Vinci is there he’s still a minor character and the women have the center stage.
The book is told by various points of views but it was easy to follow.

I’m glad this is part of a series and I can’t wait for the next book and learn more about these women!

Promised to the Crown

Promised to the Crown - Aimie K. Runyan pending review

The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie

The Rivals of Versailles: A Novel (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy) - Sally Christie

When Jeanne Poisson is a young child, a fortuneteller tells her that one day she will be the king’s mistress. From that time her whole life strives for her to become the mistress of king Louis XV’s mistress and her mother calls her Reinette from now on. She does fulfill that prediction and falls in love with the king but soon learns that her position won’t bring her friends in the court. She learns the ways of the court and is elevated to the title Marquise de Pompadour.

Like with the last book, The Sisters of Versailles, I hated all of the characters but I liked the book. That surely takes some talent.

I didn’t really warm to Pompadour who at first was too naïve and sometimes I wondered how she could keep her position. I can’t say exactly why she annoyed me but se did. But you have to admire her for rising from nowhere, becoming the confidante to the king and managing to stay there despite not sharing the kings bed. She’s practical enough allowing the king other mistresses and becoming more like a mother figure for him.

I didn’t like Louis in the first book and I liked him even less here. I just wanted to shake him so many times. He’s come far from the man who had doubts about straying from his wife’s bed. He really started the path to the Revolution and it’s a shame he’s not the one to pay for it. I wondered how Pompadour could put up with him so long because he really wasn’t easy man to be with.

The first part was from Pompadour’s view point but in the later it shifts between her and some of the girls trying to get in her place. Through their eyes you can see how Pompadour has learnt her lessons in shrewdness.

I really enjoyed this and I can’t wait for the next and final book.

Galerie

Galerie - Steven  Greenberg 3,5 stars

When Vanesa Neuman’s father dies, she gets her father’s old diary from the World War II time. Her parents were Holocaust survivors but never spoke about their past and Vanesa feels like she never really knew her parents. She wants to learn more about her family’s history so she travels to Prague with her father’s old diary, which has an odd symbol in it.

The book divides between 1970’s and 1990’s as present day setting place in Israel, Prague and USA. While I liked the book I wasn’t fan of the format. It jumps between different decades with different people telling the story and I was so confused much of the time. I got used to it with time though. The narrator, Vanesa’s husband, isn’t actually present in almost any of the events and seemed like he told what Vanesa had told him. At times he wasn’t sure if things had gone as he thought they had and that was little annoying.

It was interesting to read how Holocaust had such strong effects even to the survivor’s children and we also see how the survivors are treated after the war. I haven’t read much about the survivors in Israel after the war and this gave some light on that.

The Rivals of Versailles: A Novel

The Rivals of Versailles: A Novel - Sally  Christie When Jeanne Poisson is a young child, a fortuneteller tells her that one day she will be the king’s mistress. From that time her whole life strives for her to become the mistress of king Louis XV’s mistress and her mother calls her Reinette from now on. She does fulfill that prediction and falls in love with the king but soon learns that her position won’t bring her friends in the court. She learns the ways of the court and is elevated to the title Marquise de Pompadour.

Like with the last book, The Sisters of Versailles, I hated all of the characters but I liked the book. That surely takes some talent.

I didn’t really warm to Pompadour who at first was too naïve and sometimes I wondered how she could keep her position. I can’t say exactly why she annoyed me but se did. But you have to admire her for rising from nowhere, becoming the confidante to the king and managing to stay there despite not sharing the kings bed. She’s practical enough allowing the king other mistresses and becoming more like a mother figure for him.

I didn’t like Louis in the first book and I liked him even less here. I just wanted to shake him so many times. He’s come far from the man who had doubts about straying from his wife’s bed. He really started the path to the Revolution and it’s a shame he’s not the one to pay for it. I wondered how Pompadour could put up with him so long because he really wasn’t easy man to be with.

The first part was from Pompadour’s view point but in the later it shifts between her and some of the girls trying to get in her place. Through their eyes you can see how Pompadour has learnt her lessons in shrewdness.

I really enjoyed this and I can’t wait for the next and final book.

The Empress of Bright Moon

The Empress of Bright Moon - Weina Dai Randel pending review

Hanging Mary: A Novel

Hanging Mary: A Novel - Susan Higginbotham 3,5 stars

I have to confess that I don’t know much about Lincoln and hadn’t ever heard of Mary Surratt before. So this was all very new for me. I don’t usually read books about US history but I’ve loved Higginbotham’s previous books and wanted to give this a chance. And I’m glad I did.

Mary Surrat is a widower living in Washington trying to make living after her husband’s death left her in debts. She started to run a boardinghouse and business has started to pic up when President Lincoln is assassinated and the whole house is under suspicion. The man accused of the murder, John Wilkes Booth, is a friend of Mary’s son Johnny and has been spending time in the boardinghouse. Johnny is also one of the accused and Mary can’t believe her son has anything to do with the murder.
Nora Fitzpartick is one of the boarders who befriends Booth and becomes a suspect because of her friends.

It started little slow but soon started to pick up the pace and I wanted to keep reading wanting to know what would happen.

I resisted googling what would happen hoping someone would believe Mary and give her pardon. I liked Mary and Nora, even if Mary was little too blind to see what her doted son was up to. Nora was loyal to her friends until the end and trying everything she could do to save Mary.

I really liked this and I learned so much more about the period.

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