Tag Archives: historical fiction

Book Review : The FitzOsbornes at War

Title : The FitzOsbornes at War

Author : Michelle CooperThe FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray Journals, #3)

Publication Date : October 9th, 2012
Pages : 560
Stand Alone or Series : #3 in the Montmaray Chronicles
Red Flags : Some sexual situations, violence (appropriate for older adolescents)
Three Words : historical, character study, journal

******WARNING! This review contains unavoidable spoilers for the first two books in the series.

Summary : Sophie FitzOsborne and the rest of her family have escaped from Nazis who occupied their beloved island county Montmaray. (Book #1) They have lived in England in exile dealing with the coming war and trying to get their country back (Book #2). Now it is finally war time and Sophie journals about her life during wartime. They are dealing with the non-stop bombing of London, working jobs for the government, and rationing. Sophie dances in nightclubs with soldiers on leave, manages her relatives and waits for news of her brother, who is a fighter pilot in the RAF. When news does come, it isn’t good. Toby’s plane has been shot down in enemy territory and nobody knows where is dead or alive. Will Toby come home? Will Sophie find love? What will happen to Montmaray?

My Take : OMG you guys…..this is one of the best books I’ve read in a LONG time. I actually cried during one pivotal part (I haven’t done that since Bk. 7 of Harry Potter and before that Where the Red Fern Grows – don’t even think about reading that if you love dogs and don’t want to do the “ugly cry” – but I digress). Michelle Cooper does a really masterful job of transporting you to wartime London. She weaves both historical details with a fantastic amount of character development and introspection. The realities of living during this horrendous are brought closer to you because she infuses with realistic touches – what are they eating, dealing with rationing…the mundane details of life that still have to go one even though shit is crazy. I did that thing when I finished this book where I just gave a little sigh because : 1) it was so good and wrapped up everything really well but not in a  too good to be true way and 2) now I’ve finished it  and I’m just a little sad.  This was absolutely my favorite of the three and I can’t recommend this enough. I feel like shouting BRAVA Michelle Cooper….well done indeed. I give this…..wait for it…..10 SHOES!@!!!!!!! It’s happened – I loved it that much. This book is a pair of leopard Loubotin heels – the perfect shoe. Do yourself a favor – read this series!

Trina

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Book Review : Grave Mercy

There must have been a directive from publishers to authors : We need strong female leads!! We need to cash in on this whole Hunger Games thing. If possible they should be deadly. This must be the reason why I keep finding lady assassin books everywhere in YA right now. Luckily all of the books I’ve read have been pretty awesome so I’m not complaining. Just sayin’…

Title : Grave MercyGrave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Author : Robin Lafevers

Stand Alone or Series : #1 in His Fair Assassin series (although as far as I can tell each book is about a different person while still being interconnected)

Three Words : historical, romance, YA,

Red Flags : sexual situations, some language, violence (still YA but maybe the older end of that)

Summary : Seventeen-year-old Ismae Rienne is about to be married off to the Pig Farmer Guillo. He is violent, brutish, not to mention extremely rapey. Luckily she is rescued before this can happen and taken to the convent of St. Mortain. There the sisters serve the old gods, specifically Death, under the guise of Christian saints. They are tasked to train the sisters to serve Death, including sending those bearing his marque to their final sleep. Ismae passes their tests and become one of the initiates. She learns how to make poisons, how to swordfight, knife fight and kill with her bare hands. Basically become a super bad ass. Now she has been assigned to the Breton court of the Duchess, where she is to pretend to be Gavriel Duval’s mistress. She is supposed to learn who is plotting against the Duchess and dispatch them. Things get all sorts of complicated when she discovers that Gavriel is not only intelligent but kind-hearted and super hot. Plus she is woefully underprepared to deal with all the court intrigues, etc… Will she follow through with her task? What if Gavriel is the traitor?

My Take : I liked many things about this book and I disliked many things about this book. Dislike : Ismae does not seem all that deep of a character. For being a bad-ass, she has a lot of self-esteem issues. Somehow that didn’t jibe with the whole becoming assassin thing. On the other hand, Ismae going through the whole trying to decide if the convent is on the side of right or not seemed very compelling and true to the character. Dislike #2 : I wasn’t all that excited about Gavriel…just hoping for a little more substance not just hot and kind. Dislike #3 : Some plot points seemed a little too contrived…really? Somebody is thought to be a traitor so instead of taking off, he hides in the secret passageways of the castle. This is making it sound like I hated this book but I actually really liked it and am excited to read the next book in the series. I really liked following Ismae in her initial training at the convent. I loved the court intrigue, the interesting historical context of Breton and the light fantasy elements that were woven seamlessly into the story. I hoped for a little more depth and interest in the characters but the world that Lafevers has created is enough to draw me in. I give it seven and a half shoes :  gladiator shoes – not always practical but with certain outfits – really fun!

Trina

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Revenger or Methinks Thou Didst Strike Me Verily Upon the Head

I am a huge sucker for historical fiction from two time periods : first, anything in Ancient Egypt but more specifically the era when Cleopatra, Caesar and Marc Antony were kicking around (I will be reviewing Cleopatra : A Life in the future) and second, anything Elizabethan era. So when I found out there is a series of historical fiction mysteries set in the Elizabethan era where Shakespeare’s older brother solves mysteries I had to check it out. I didn’t realize there was a previous novel so I missed the first book of this series but I enjoyed this book enough that it didn’t bother me as much as that usually does.

So John Shakespeare is Will’s older brother, super intelligent and formerly a spy for Walshingham (the Queen’s spy master). Now Walsingham is dead, the Queen is fast fading and there are intrigues aplenty at Court as people are jockeying for positions and Spain is getting all assassiny. John is approached by the Earl of Essex who wants him to investigate a report that a woman has been spotted in London who was known to be a colonist at the mysterious colony of Roanoke ( you know the one where everybody died, and all that was left were mysterious markings on trees). Then he is approached by Sir Cecil (the Queen’s NEW spymaster) who wants John to spy on the Earl of Essex because he suspects him of wanting to kill his queen. Meanwhile, John is dealing with plague in the city and his wife possibly hiding a priest (which is very much against the law). Who is the mysterious woman and was she at Roanoke? Is the Earl of Essex really plotting treason? How do several strange murders around town connect to both of these things? As Shakespeare said “The game is afoot.”  (Interesting sidenote : Shakespeare is responsible for more sayings than any other individual in history, at least 135 including “The game is afoot, good riddance, and wild goose chase.” )

I really enjoyed this mystery novel. The plot was intricate and detailed, with nothing being overly obvious. The historical accuracies of the novel made me feel as if Clements put me right into Elizabethan England. The characters were interesting and varied from lower class whores to aristocratic nobles. If you are looking for a literary novel then you should probably look elsewhere – there are no intense subtle contexts to this book. But if you are looking for a solid historical mystery novel then this should be on your list. I give the book seven shoes – a pair of green wedge moccasin shoes that I love but don’t get bust out as often as I would like.

Title : Revenger by Rory Clements

Three Appeals : Detailed historical setting, intricate and interesting mystery, well developed characters

Red Flags : Some sex and violence

For more historical mysteries try :

1) An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears

Opinionated, influential Dr. Robert Grove is poisoned with arsenic in his New College lodgings. A missing signet ring leads his colleagues to his former servant (and rumored strumpet) Sarah Blundy, who, swiftly brought to trial, confesses and is promptly hanged–and dissected by enthusiastic physician Richard Lower. But the crime, evidently so simple in its events, is presented through the distorting lenses of four narrators whose obsessions place it in dramatically different contexts. Visiting Venetian Marco da Cola, a dandy mined in medicine, who has been treating Sarah’s ailing mother Anne, grieves for the ruin of mother and daughter and the wreck of his own friendship with Lower. Sarah’s former lover Jack Prestcott, an undergraduate jailed for attacking his guardian, is consumed with proving that his exiled father was hounded to his death innocent of the charge of treason the returning monarch Charles II’s supporters had lodged against him. Dr. John Wallis, mathematician and divine, sees no inconsistency between his endless petty intrigues on behalf of Charles’s scheming minister Henry Bennet and his vituperative condemnation of Sarah. In the brilliantly illuminated world in which medical experiments, religious and political debates between Roundheads and Royalists, and the founding of the Royal Society bring debates about the nature of science, history, religion, and authority into a focus whose sharpness has a special urgency for our own time, each of these narrators has his own slashingly conflicting claims to make. But it’s not until the final narrator, burrowing historian Anthony Wood, weighs in to judge among the sharply competing visions of the earlier narrators that Pears produces his most memorable surprises, or unveils his deepest mysteries. ( taken from Kirkus Reviews, 1997).

2) Firedrake’s Eye by Patricia Finney

London, 1583. The loyal courtier Simon Ames is viciously beaten. Is the attack random, or has Ames been the victim of a subtly treasonous act? A nonsense poem written by the lunatic Tom O’Bedlam has become a favourite of London’s ballad sellers. Who has taken the meanderings of a madman so seriously and why? Following a trail of murder, treason and terror, Ames sets out to find the truth. But as he digs deeper into the human midden that is Elizabethan London, the puzzle becomes an enigma, then a riddle. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

3) The Poyson Garden by Karen Harper

The letter came in secret, with a pearl eardrop from an aunt long thought dead, resurrecting the forbidden past. Banished by her spiteful half sister, Queen Mary, to Hatfield House in the English countryside, twenty-five-year-old Princess Elizabeth cannot refuse the summons. The Boleyns are in grave danger. And Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, is marked for death by a master poisoner whose reign of terror may have royal sanction. With her few loyal retainers, Elizabeth escapes to Kent. Here, in her ancestral Hever Castle, now held by the Queen’s loyalists, Elizabeth seeks to unravel the plot against her. And here, in the embrace of intrigue and betrayal, the princess must find a brilliant, powerfully connected killer-before the killer finds her…. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

Are you a fan of historical fiction/mysteries? What’s your favorite time period?

Trina

 

 

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