Tag Archives: historical fiction

The Big Books of Summer | Top Ten Tuesday

Happy Tuesday all,

I’ve been quiet since my last post, but that’s because I’ve been busy with a few projects. I’m hoping to have an update up this week regarding Pirate Eyes and I’m preparing my usual end of the month wrap-up. But I am loving this new weekly TTT post because (fun fact) I LOVE making lists 😉

If you want to participate, you can find out all the information here at The Broke and the Bookish!

Today’s theme is a Summer freebie so I though I’d share with you my (wishful) summer TBR which is mostly comprised of large high fantasy tomes that could make great door stoppers or head knockers if wielded properly.

But before I jump to that list, I just want to take a moment to extend a prayer to those affected by the attack at the Manchester Arena, and to all of us really, looking for peace and love in this world.

I also want to share this tweet I posted on Twitter this morning. I was feeling really frustrated by what had happened, but then I realized a kinder truth that eased it. I hope it can help do the same for you…

Remember to stand by your values, friends, to look for the light in the dark. Standing together, holding to hope and that wish for peace, that is what will guide us through.


THE BIG BOOKS OF SUMMER | TBR

As a reader, I set aside most of my outrageously large TBR books for the summer months. Here are the top ten I hope (but know I won’t) read this sunny season…

15808621

Coming in at 1,107 pages, this is definitely one of the largest tomes I have on my TBR, and one of my highest anticipated ones as well. I read the first book (Name of the Wind) in the series last year and fell in love with the characters and the narrative style and the setting and… oh! I just fell in love with ALL OF IT ❤️️

The only thing that’s been holding me back is the fear that all wise book readers fear — that by the next time the third book comes out I’ll have forgotten everything that happened in the first two. Of course, by the logic of this, my other fear should be if I remember everything that happened in book one… 😳

Oh well, I’ll take my chances and hope that book three comes out a year from now. Hear that Mr. Rothfuss… Please don’t be another Grr Martin. 😊

Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb:

27855850When it comes to this lovely book, the truth is that I forgot I hadn’t finished the series 😅 I only realized it yesterday when I was looking through my shelves to figure out my June TBR and saw it and then the realization struck hard and fast! 😳

I loved Hobb’s first series (the Farseer Trilogy) & I jumped into her second one hoping for the same feeling. While I haven’t enjoyed it as much, mainly because there’s no character quite like Fitz in it, I do love the ocean setting and pirates (I’m writing a pirate book, so pirates are always a must for me 😉) .

Anyhoo… I intend to finish this trilogy in June. At 800 pages, it’s not too intimidating a read…

Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson:

243272In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?

Counting this as three, four and five on the list.

Here’s one that’s been on my TBR for much longer than it deserves to have been. I’ve heard only amazing things about this series and I am making darn sure that this summer is the season when I finally indulge.

Whether or not this means binge reading the entire series remains to be seen. If it does then I can look forward to a whopping 2,168 pages of high fantasy epicness!

Not a bad thing in my mind. Not a bad thing at all…

The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman:

1321064The first non-fantasy on my list, this lovely book falls into my second favourite genre category: historical fiction. This will be my first Penman novel – – though she’s been on my TBR longer even than Sanderson! In the past seven months or so, I’ve stocked up on five of her books (Book Outlet had them price at 7.00 versus the normal 20.00. Steal, am I right 😉)

This particularly gorgeous tome focuses on the life of Richard III, infamous for his villainy and twisted shape. Her retelling sheds a different light on the story and I can’t wait to see how she does! In the 936 pages that she tells it in! 😅

This magnificent retelling of his life is filled with all of the sights and sounds of battle, the customs and lore of the fifteenth century, the rigors of court politics, and the passions and prejudices of royalty.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon:

685374The fourth book in the Outlander series, I have set this one aside since I read Voyager in winter 2016.  While I didn’t enjoy the first book as much as I hoped to, I loved the second one for its historical setting and did enjoy the third one as it introduced new characters and new settings to delight in.

What I really enjoy about this series is how it blends romances, history and fantasy. And Scotland. Enough said!

I really do intend to read the whole series through and if I can get through one a year that would be marvelous. So here’s hoping the summer brings an opportunity to return to Claire and Jamie (which reminds me that I still need to watch the second season of the show. Luckily, it’s now up on Netflix 😊)!

So that’s another 1,070 pages!

The Once and Future King by T.H. White:

10571Another one long on my TBR and on my shelf. I am looking forward to delving into this classic Arthurian text. It’s been too long since I read a book that deals with King Arthur and Merlin and the knights of the round table! The last was Mary Stewart’s Merlin cycle which I must highly recommend to any fellow Arthurian enthusiasts 😊

The version I have is a total 823 pages but there could never be enough pages for me to get lost in when it comes to any Arthur retelling!

Exquisite comedy offsets the tragedy of Arthur’s personal doom as White brings to life the major British epic of all time with brilliance, grandeur, warmth and charm.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy:

18243Nothing like a hefty classic book to make the sun shine brighter and the long days feel longer! 😅

Often called the greatest novel ever written, War and Peace is at once an epic of the Napoleonic Wars, a philosophical study, and a celebration of the Russian spirit. Tolstoy’s genius is seen clearly in the multitude of characters in this massive chronicle—all of them fully realized and equally memorable.

I have been avoiding this lofty Russian tome for some time only because of the sheer size of it, but I am tired of hiding from it and this summer I shall attend to it with determination! Each summer I try to read a large classic (two years ago it was Les Miserables, before that The Count of Monte Cristo). They are among my favourite books and I have no doubt that Tolstoy will captivate me with his words.

Bring on all 1,388 pages! I’m ready to get lost!

Empress by Karen Miller:

2015492This high fantasy is one that was recommended to me by the lovely and talented Sarina Langer and I have it set to read for July. It’s another chunk of a novel coming in at 717 pages! But the story sounds oh so promising:

Her name is Hekat–
And she will be slave to no man.

In a family torn apart by poverty and violence, Hekat is no more than an unwanted mouth to feed, worth only a few coins from a passing slave trader.

But Hekat was not born to be a slave. For her, a different path has been chosen. It is a path that will take her from stinking back alleys to the house of her god, from blood-drenched battlefields to the glittering palaces of Mijak.

Honourable Mentions

On the off-chance that I finish the ten books above, I also hope to get to these books as well…

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye

Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Eye of the World by Robert Jordan



So there you have it! All in all, if I do manage to read these ten books this summer, I’ll be looking at a whopping 9009 pages to delight in! Actually, I rather like the look of that number 😍

What’s the biggest book you’re looking forward to read this summer? Let me know in the comments!

May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,

Faith   quill-ink

MAY TBR

Hi friends,

It’s May 10th, so this is coming later than it probably should, but I thought I’d share the reads I have lined up for this month.

I might be a little overambitious though…

Happy May 1st everyone 😊 It's always exciting to be starting a new month. There's a lot waiting to be done but I'm ready for the challenges. One of those challenges will be keeping up with my #bookstagram. MAYhaps this will be the month I pull it off 😅 Day 1: Here's my May TBR for #grimdragon & #bluelovesbookishmay. It's an awesome lineup if I do say so myself. 😍 #circleofbookishfriends is May flowers – using my scarf to cover that today because it's raining outside and I can't show off the budding beauties 💐 #ampersandmay17 is Mask – Using Eon for this one as it's about a girl who masquerades as a boy. #bookishearworms is Cry Me a River (sad books) – Fire Bringer is a reread for me this month and it's one of the saddest books I've ever read. What books are on your TBR this month? #readingcommunity #readersofinstagram #maytbr #bookworm #booklove #booklover #bookishlife #bookaholic #bookaddict

A post shared by Faith Rivens (@faith_therivens) on

I’ve managed to finish three of these so far:

Beauty by Robin McKinley 🌟🌟🌟🌟.5
I loved this story so much! The prose was excellent and gleamed with all the potential that McKinley honed after this, her debut. Where the story lacked was in stakes and adequate development of the romance. That being said, the characterization of Beauty and Beast were phenomenal! As Beauty and the Beast retellings go, this has to be a favourite of mine.

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood 🌟🌟🌟🌟.5
I have only read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Atwood which is something I need to rectify this year. Honestly, she’s such an amazing author. This little gem is the retelling of ‘The Odyssey’ from Penelope’s perspective and the voice in it was off the charts! Humourous, witty and a compelling narrative. It’s purpose felt more thematic so the plot itself wasn’t driven by stakes or action. But a small quibble because Penelope’s characterization was phenomenal!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I finished this one two days ago and it is a new favourite of mine. I fell in love with the prose, the worldbuilding, the premise, the setting, the layered plot, the twist. All the love for this amazing fantasy book that used so many of my favourite elements. I could imagine Guillermo del Toro doing something amazing with this book if he was the one adapting it into a movie! Also, Karou has to be one of my favourite heroines too. My only problem is that I want to binge read the rest of the series but I don’t have book 2 or 3 so I have to wait. 😦

At the moment, I have about 50 pages left in Hell’s Teeth by James Fahy. If you’ve been following me long enough, you might remember that I’ve read his other series. An MG fantasy highly reminiscent of Tolkien and Lewis, it’s been one of my favourite reads this year. Well, this new series I’ve discovered is a darker urban fantasy and oh so wonderful! Set in a dystopian world with vampires and featuring a kickass (pardon my French) protagonist, Hell’s Teeth proves that Fahy is a versatile author and a master storyteller.

I’m still working my way through Women Who Run with Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. I had started this nonfiction in April after finishing early with Stephen King’s On Writing and I’m hoping to be finished it this month which will mean that I’m 5 for 5 for my nonfiction reads this year. So far, I’m really enjoying the psychological perspective that she’s applying to myths and the empowering virtues it conveys for women.

Not sure what I’ll read next. Firebringer is a reread so I turn to that. But I really want to read Nevernight and Eon soon. And I was supposed to read Norse Mythology last month but didn’t get to it. The Hatter’s Wife is a novella which promises to be fun and quick so I’ll probably save it for a light read between two big ones. And then there’s Named of the Dragon which is the only book that isn’t a fantasy on my list…. Hmm…?

Any suggestions 🙂


What’s on your TBR this month, friends? Share and let me know what you’ve been reading lately!

May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,

Faith quill-ink

WWW Wednesday | 22.03.17

Happy Wednesday friends,

I’m back today for WWW Wednesday and boy has it been a long time ;P

I’ve been busy with writing, participating in an #AuthorHop on Instagram and life… beautiful, unexpected life! I’ve found time to read since my last post, but not the time to post. But today, I fix that.

Thanks to the lovely Sam at Taking on a World of Words for hosting this amazing blog hop every week! If you aren’t following her already, you’re missing out 🙂

Want to join in? All you have to do is answer these questions:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

CURRENTLY READING

The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley

18998861Blurb:

Chinon: château of legend, steeped in the history of France and England.

It is to Chinon that Emily goes on a long-awaited holiday, to meet her charming but unreliable cousin, Harry. Harry wanted to explore the old town and the castle, where Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, had withstood the siege of Chinon many centuries ago, and where, according to legend, she hid her casket of jewels. But when Emily arrives at her hotel she finds that Harry has disappeared, and as she tries to find him she becomes involved with some of the other guests and learns of a mystery dating from the German occupation during the Second World War. Another Isabelle, a chambermaid at the hotel, fell in love with a German soldier, with tragic results.

Emily becomes increasingly aware of strange tensions, old enmities and new loves; as she explores the city, with its labyrinthine dungeons and tunnels and its ancient secrets, she comes ever closer to the mystery of what happened to both the Isabelles of Chinon’s history.

Chances are I’ll be done this one by the time you’re reading this but I’m including it here for the moment because I’m still 100 pages from the end. It’s the second Kearsley I’m reading in my 2017 read-a-thon of her bibliography. It just took a really tragic turn that I wasn’t expecting….

FINISHED READING

The Manningtree Acount by Becky Wright

34510505Blurb:

1646 – A time of English Civil War, when life is cheap, death common and superstition consumes the hearts of God-fearing folk. The life of a healer is precarious, dwelling in the shadows of normal society. Ostracised, their time running out as the self-appointed Witchfinder General scours the countryside for the Devil’s whores…

2016 – One dark night, one sleepy town, one family gripped by terror. The EAPI paranormal team are called to investigate dark poltergeist activity. But, as the eternal night finally loosens its grip, it seems that some evil deeds are never forgotten, reaching out from beyond the grave to exact their revenge…

I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful this novella was! Thrilling and gripping! After reading Becky’s debut novel (Remember to Love Me), a time slip romance, I was excited to see how she handled a paranormal thriller and WOW! She’s a true storyteller, able to work her magic across genres. My full review will be up tomorrow!

READING NEXT

Song of Susannah (Dark Tower #6) by Stephen King

5093Blurb (from The Gunslinger – Book I the series)

Set in a world of extraordinary circumstances, filled with stunning visual imagery and unforgettable characters, The Dark Tower series is King’s most visionary feat of storytelling, a magical mix of science fiction, fantasy, and horror that may well be his crowning achievement.

In The Gunslinger (originally published in 1982), King introduces his most enigmatic hero, Roland Deschain of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting, solitary figure at first, on a mysterious quest through a desolate world that eerily mirrors our own. Pursuing the man in black, an evil being who can bring the dead back to life, Roland is a good man who seems to leave nothing but death in his wake.

The penultimate in the series, I am excited and nervous to finish this amazing adventure. I have fallen in love with these characters and am constantly amazed by King’s masterful storytelling. If you can stomach some of the more gruesome elements, this dark fantasy is brilliant and shouldn’t be missed!


Share your WWW posts below or let me know what your week has been like in books in the comments below!

May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,

Faith quill-ink

Remember to Love Me | Becky Wright

Hi friends,

Yes. I’m alive.

I know I’ve been gone for a while. I’ve been hiding out in my writing cave lately. This month I’ve written 26,942 (not including today’s word count which is over 2k already). I have 30k left to write to get to the end of this first draft and I need it to be done for the end of the month, so fair warning that I’ll be a little absent for the next two weeks.

Until then, I’ll drop in with a few reviews and any other posts I can manage.

Like this one!


33149049BLURB

1900
Annabelle yearns for nothing more than motherhood. Losing her own mother in child birth at the tender age of four; a gaping hole has grown in the pit of her belly with the desire to nurture a child. Her sole purpose, she values its significance and her duty to provide an heir to devoted husband Richard Hardwick, successor to a wealthy landowning family. But motherhood may not be as she once hoped, as fate deals her a cruel hand, leaving her with a life-changing dilemma.

Her younger sister Emily, vibrant and full of zest is engaged to the dashing Lance Corporal James Wright, jubilant with thoughts of the future she imagines nothing but wedded bliss on the horizon. But as a new century dawns, darkness falls, as the Boer War gains strength James is deployed to South Africa, leaving his new bride alone with an uncertain future. As melancholy festers, Emily escapes the rural confines of Bury St Edmunds to stay with Aunt Anna by the sea, where she languishes in nature’s rough vast beauty. As the distance stretches between the sisters, so too does the life-thread of family.

1997
April has spent her solitary childhood in the pretty Norfolk village of Winterton-on-Sea, surrounded by its quiet lanes and circular pastel holiday cottages; a child flourishing in its rural beauty and thriving off the natural elements of sandy dunes and buffering waves. But now, after leaving University and as her 21st birthday approaches, April finds herself relocating closer to her Grandmother Sarah, to her mother’s childhood home of Bury St Edmunds; a market town in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. Her parents open their longed-for antique shop, and although April is eager to assist with the busy Christmas rush, she aches for something else; a missing puzzle-piece. She looks to Sarah for guidance and direction, struggling to adjust, in her heart, pining for her sea-side home; she takes solace in the extraordinary bond she shares with her grandmother

April’s feelings of uncertainty amplify as she steps over the threshold of her ancestral home; an early Victorian townhouse at the heart of the historic town, where time has stopped in its tracks, pristine and perfectly antiquated. In a visit to the attic late one afternoon, she discovers more than just dusty tea chests and old suitcases. She encounters an ancestor that has remained, a beautiful ghostly apparition whispering secrets in the shadows.

As the weeks follow and Christmas arrives, April is confronted with strange visions and dreams; memories of a lost, long buried time, of grave secrets, of sisterly love, romance and family loyalties that stretch beyond even love’s limits. April is thrown into turmoil, living moments in two eras, experiencing love and loss in both. With the help of Annabelle’s diary, she begins to unravel the mysteries of her ancestor’s history as her own destiny falls into place. Piecing together snippets of another life, giving peace back to the house and laying ghosts to rest; she unfolds the mystery of her family’s Supernatural Legacy.

REVIEW

A brilliant debut novel full of romance and heartbreak, that pulls tight on your heartstrings and ensnares you with magical prose and lyrical beauty.

Fantasy might be my most read genre, but historical time slips/time travels/parallel tales are second to it. I love fiction that weaves narratives through two or three different time periods, seeing the connection of various lives, seeing recurring themes and settings. And that is what I loved most about this truly enchanting read.

In the present day (1997) April is a young girl who is still searching for her purpose in life. When she and her family move near her grandmother, she discovers a family secret and pieces together the lives of her ancestors, all the while coming to understand her role within it.

Annabelle and Emily are two sisters living at the turn of the century, learning to love and coping with love. They face hardships, and their bond is challenged at each obstacle that meets them.

Both these narratives come together in spectacular fashion and it was hard to keep a dry eye throughout the story’s development. Becky Wright gives and takes, sometimes too much for one’s heart, but her characters are so strong and when they interact with one another and come together to support each other, they reawaken hope to ease the soul.

Reminded me of Susanna Kearsley in the best of ways, this novel is not one that you want to miss out on if you love historical romances.

CONCLUSION

A truly stunning debut! Brilliant and beautiful.

RATING

quills


May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,

Faith quill-ink

WWW Wednesday | 18.01.17

Happy Wednesday friends,

I missed this last week because, to be frank with you, I hadn’t done much reading at all ;P Fortunately, I’ve made up since then and am currently on my 7th read of the year!

rapunzel

Yes, I’m rather excited about it! 😂

Thanks to Sam at Taking on a World of Words for hosting this great opportunity to discover new books and share our reads each week.

If you want to participate – and I hope you do – then answer these three questions:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

CURRENTLY READING

30298463Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle

Blurb:

Retired history professor Abe Aronson is a cranky, solitary man living out his autumn years on Gardner Island, a ferry ride away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Seattle. One rainy February night, while dining at a favorite local haunt, Abe and his girlfriend Joanna meet an engaging enigmatic waitress, new in town and without a place of her own. Fascinated and moved by the girl’s plight, Joanna invites her to stay in Abe’s garage. It seems everyone falls for the charming and invigorating the waitress, but she is much more than she appears, and an ancient covenant made a millennium ago threatens to disrupt the spring and alter the lives of Abe, Joanna, and all those around them forever…

I am rather enjoying this one so far. I received an ARC from Netgalley but it’s been on the backburner for some time and I am doing my best to get caught up with them all by the end of February.

Anyway, this book is a lovely bit of whimsy and wonder, somewhat reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s work. Shamefully this is my first Beagle novel. I’ve been meaning to read the Last Unicorn (the movie has always managed to terrify me and devastate me)! For now, I must say that Beagle has caught my attention 🙂

FINISHED READING

I finished reading Mariana by Susana Kearsley in early January, but just posted my review here, if you want to check it out! A beautiful historical romance! Really tugs on the heartstrings!

Awaken (The A’Vean Chronicles #1) by GR Thomas

27822669Blurb:

SOME PEOPLE AREN’T DESTINED TO BE ORDINARY.
With a special gift held close to her heart, it was always going to be hard for Sophia Woodville to live an ordinary life.
As a 20 year old nursing grad, she thought she had her future all sorted.
However, destiny was about to intervene.
Her secret was not so secret. The gift she possessed was just a hint of something far beyond her wildest imagination.
Sophia will be pulled, kicking and screaming, into an unseen, ancient world that challenges all that she thought to be true of herself, her family and the origins of humanity.
Original sin, forbidden love and her life in constant danger.
Will Sophia survive this dark twist of fate?
Will the devil be her saviour?
Will an Angel be her downfall?

One of my highly anticipated reads of 2017, it exceeded my expectations. Amazingly well written with a dazzling mythology to support a gripping plot. Sophia is a brilliantly crafted protagonist and I can’t wait to find out what happens to her next. My review should be up tomorrow!

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

25480342Blurb:

Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

Patrick Ness takes the final idea of the late, award-winning writer Siobhan Dowd and weaves an extraordinary and heartbreaking tale of mischief, healing and above all, the courage it takes to survive.

I am still not over this beautiful, heart-wrenching, magical book! Patrick Ness, welcome to my favourite author list!

 

Rage and Ruin by Kate Roman

33198313Blurb:

Bridget O’Malley’s temper has always been trouble. It’s made her the black sheep of the family, cost her customers at her bar, and ruined relationships, but it has never put her life in danger. That is until she tries to rescue her cousin from a demon summoning cult. In picking a fight with one of Chicago’s most powerful witches, Bridget finds her bar being picketed, her witch’s license suspended, and demons on her trail. Annoyed and afraid Bridget uses the only weapon at her disposal to get her life back to normal: her temper.

An ARC received from NetGalley, I was tempted to pick it up because the premise sounded so intriguing, unfortunately the plot fell flat, the story lacked in tension, stakes and likeable characters. My review will definitely be up tomorrow.

AND

The Blue Sword (Damar #1) by Robin McKinley

407813Blurb:

Harry Crewe is an orphan girl who comes to live in Damar, the desert country shared by the Homelanders and the secretive, magical Hillfolk. Her life is quiet and ordinary-until the night she is kidnapped by Corlath, the Hillfolk King, who takes her deep into the desert. She does not know the Hillfolk language; she does not know why she has been chosen. But Corlath does. Harry is to be trained in the arts of war until she is a match for any of his men. Does she have the courage to accept her true fate?

I finished this one two nights ago and I am still hung over how wonderful it was! A real fantasy gem, stunning with plot, characters and world building! My second McKinley (I read Hero and the Crown first, and am kind of glad I did), I am in love with this woman’s writing capabilities! Fellow fantasy lovers, read this now 🙂

 

READING NEXT

I have three books left on my original January TBR (Vicious by VE Schwab, Desert Jewel by Natalina Reis and Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop), but I’ve added another book to the pile and will probably put it first…..

Night Study (Soulfinders #2) by Maria V. Snyder

16130759I’m not including the blurb because there are plentiful spoilers to be found within it!

I know this series gets a lot of mixed reviews and, in all honestly, I wasn’t such a big fan of Soul Study, but I feel compelled to finish this series. My understanding is that Night Study is superior to it, so I’m hopeful that I’ll enjoy it more.

The last book (I think it’s the last) is coming out January 31st so I figured I read this one now and then get to Dawn Study and call our time together at an end.

 

 

 


What books have you devoured of late? Let me know your weekly reading habits or share your link to your WWW post! Let the love of reading flourish 🙂

May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,

Faith  quill-ink

Mariana | Susanna Kearsley

Hello friends,

It’s been awhile since I posted a review, but here comes a new one for you.


1777492Blurb:

The winner of the Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize: this mesmerizing, suspenseful, atmospheric tale of time travel draws us into the heart of a heroine we won’t soon forget. The first time Julia Beckett saw Greywethers she was only five but she knew at once it was her house. Now twenty-five years later, by some strange chance, she has become the new owner of the sixteenth-century Wilshire farmhouse.

Julia begins to suspect more than coincidence has brought her. As if Greywethers were a porthal between worlds, she finds herself abruptly transported in time. Stepping into seventeenth-century England, Julia becomes Mariana: a beautiful young woman struggling against danger and treachery, battling a forbidden love for Richard de Mornay; handsome forebear of the squire of Crofton Hall. Each time Julia travels, she becomes more enthralled with the past, falling deeper in love… until one day she realizes Mariana’s life threatens to eclipse hers. She must find a way to lay the past to rest, or risk losing a chance for love in her own time.

Review:

“…seek me not with your eyes, but with your soul. The soul sees what truly matters.”

Set in the present, but defined by the echoing past, Mariana, is a historical romance that tells the story of a young artist beckoned to remember a past life, a time when she was Mariana.

This story was a reread for me, and I enjoyed it even more this time than the first. Perhaps it has something to do with how I’ve grown as a person since my last reading, but I’d rather claim it to be a recognition of the subtle foreshadowing layering the earlier chapters in preparation for the denouement.

“The past can teach us, nurture us, but it cannot sustain us. The essence of life is change, and we must move ever forward or the soul will wither and die.”

The plot is an enchanting one, exploring the life of one woman as she experiences two times, two lives, two realities. Julia may exist in the present, but the past is still very tangible for her and dangerously so, as it threatens to claim her present. The more she experiences of Mariana’s life, the more in danger she becomes of fading into it.

Julia’s story is a compelling one, an illustrator of children’s books, she is able to roam where she will and roams she does, to a house that first called her when she was a child.

“I first saw the house in the summer of my fifth birthday.”

Now, thirty and inquisitive, she moves into this home settled in the verdant British countryside where she makes new friends, falls in love, and seeks to understand why she keeps walking Mariana’s memories.

And yet, the more endearing story is Mariana’s. As a reader, I craved those moments when Julia trespasses into 17th century England. Mariana is a young woman who is forced to flee London at the outbreak of the plague that renders her an orphan. In her abusive uncle’s house, she becomes a prisoner of sorts, until fate introduces her to Richard de Mornay.

Friends, I usually am not one for romantic pieces, but this relationship is all my heart needed. To see their love blossom is one of the pure joys of this book:

His hand lifted higher, and clasped mine strongly. “Feel that, love. There’s nothing can break that. We are two parts of the one whole, you and I. The hawk mates for life, and our lives are but beginning.”

Swoon, right?

Of course, it’s not just the relationship that makes Mariana’s story more compelling. It is the character herself and the setting. I’m a bit of a history geek (proud of it), so my heart feels drawn to stories that are established in days of old. The world building is wonderfully vibrant, establishing the reader well into the time period and the political undercurrents that subtly affected Mariana’s rural world. And Mariana is a strong woman in a time when things weren’t easy for the ‘fairer sex’. Dauntless, yet compassionate, she is reminiscent of a heroine from one of Jane Austen’s novels.

The secondary characters round out the story nicely. From Geoffrey de Mornay (Julia’s love interest), to Thomas Beckett (Julia’s brother & a rather unconventional parson), to Iain Sumner (the Scottish gardener), to Vivien Wells (Julia’s friend and the owner of the local pub.), the ensemble is a brilliant cast with unique personalities and entertaining banter.

I want to give this book five stars, but it’s perfection is tempered by an abrupt ending that demands to be continued.

Still, this book is a cozy read. Enchanting and beautifully written and as Susanna’s second book, reveals only a glimmer of the narratives that she can tell!

Conclusion:

A story about love transcending time and one woman’s journey to uncover a life once lived, Mariana is a gorgeously woven narrative that might just steal your heart.

Rating:

4-5-quills


May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,

Faithquill-ink

Victoria | Daisy Goodwin

Hello friends,

Hope you’re having a relaxing Saturday.

Here’s a new review for a book I read back in December! Slowly catching up 😉

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!


30841109Blurb:

In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….

Review:

This was an exceptional historical fiction for me. Why?

Firstly, because it took me by surprise. I prided myself on knowing about Victoria’s life, but Daisy Goodwin opened my eyes to aspects I had never known before. And I love that! The book chronicles the early years of Victoria’s reign, starting just before she becomes queen and spanning to a marriage proposal. As the novel explores her early struggle against society, Parliament and her family, it centers itself around a fundamental relationship, that between Victoria and Melbourne.

These characters were another highlight for me. The dialogue and interactions between the two were so well written, I easily got lost into each moment. I enjoyed also how Goodwin presented both of their perspectives, letting the narrative unfold on both sides. I was able to delight in understanding how each appraised the situations they found themselves in. Admittedly, I was waiting impatiently for Albert to show up, but Goodwin did an excellent job bringing him into the complicated world of Victoria’s life and having the two interact.

Another positive note for me is that the romance was downplayed. The relationship between Melbourne and Victoria might have had its undertones of a more intimate potential, but it was never realized, never overtly forced on the reader. The subtlety of the novel was something to delight in, even when it came to Victoria and Albert’s conversations.

At its heart, it is a story devoted to Victoria, a girl forced at once to become a woman and a queen. It is a story of growth. The characters are fully formed and develop over the course of the narrative. They are flawed individuals who affected our past and through a fictional form, Goodwin allows us to appreciate them a bit better in our present.

I am excited now to watch the tv series that accompanies it and hope that a sequel may be in the works!

Conclusion:
Historical fiction done right, Victoria is an enchanting read which draws the reader into the 19th century and the early life of one of Britain’s most renown monarchs.

Rating: quills


May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,

Faith quill-ink

The Tea Planter’s Wife | Dinah Jefferies

Happy Tuesday friends!

Hope you’re all settling well into the new year. As part of my resolution to post more book reviews, I’m making my attempt to start on the right foot…

Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!


25237718Blurb:

Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married to a rich and charming widower, eager to join him on his tea plantation, determined to be the perfect wife and mother.

But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected. The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbours treacherous. And there are clues to the past – a dusty trunk of dresses, an overgrown gravestone in the grounds – that her husband refuses to discuss.

Just as Gwen finds her feet, disaster strikes. She faces a terrible choice, hiding the truth from almost everyone, but a secret this big can’t stay buried forever . . .

 

My Review:

The Tea Planter’s Wife was a book that surprised me, and that doesn’t often happen. I spent a majority of the novel believing that I knew everything, but the end proved me wrong. That being said, I enjoyed the book. I found it a diverting read that entertained me. Unfortunately, there were many things that I was not too fond of. The characters for one fell flat for me, especially our protagonist. I found it difficult to believe some of her choices. Her relationship with her husband was also lacklustre.

The descriptions, on the other hand, were extremely vivid. The lush images were easy to get lost in. It was that that swept me into the story when plot and characters proved less enchanting.

The plot itself was a tragic one, revolving around a dark secret and the consequences of the lies told to keep it concealed. It promised to be an interesting turn, but the secret itself was ignored in my opinion for a good portion of the novel, focusing more on our protagonist’s attempts to reconcile with the world she inhabits. It is unfortunate, because if the focus had been laid more heavily upon the secret itself, the story might have been more intriguing than it was. As I mentioned, the ending was not what I expected and I appreciated the maturity and realism of it. I only wish that the entire novel leading up to it had demanded more of my investment.

Conclusion: Still, I can not fault Dinah Jefferies for her strengths in crafting a narrative that really brings the reader into both the time period and the setting. A diverting historical fiction.

Rating: quills


May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,

Faith quill-ink

WWW Wednesday | 23.11.16

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words, this is one of my favourite weekly blog hops! I love being part of the a great community of readers.

All you have to do is answer three questions!

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

I managed to finish a few books, despite the fact that I’m juggling writing for NaNoWriMo and preparing my novella for publication.

Selfish promotion right now, but Eléonore has a release date: DECEMBER 4TH 2016, and I’m looking for a few more ARC readers! If you’re interested, here’s a link to the post!

And now to my reading habits!


CURRENTLY READING

Fay Storms (The Storms Trilogy #1) by A.A. Frascati

32796029Blurb:

Thief by trade. Half-breed by blood. Fifer is part-Fay and all pluck.

When her partner goes missing and she is abducted by demanding clients, Fifer finds herself trapped in a plot she wants no part of. By fulfilling her contract with the Aestus, the brotherhood of powerful and secretive warriors, she will discover that she’s not what she thinks.

The Aestus need her—even though Arkadius, Master in training, can’t see it. In order to stop the Aestus clans from warring among themselves, Arkadius must rely on Fifer to steal a powerful magical artifact. But how can a woman save the mighty Aestus? When he discovers the answer, the fate of the Empire will rest on the edge of his sword.

I’m only a few chapters into this book, which I received in exchange for an honest review. So far, so good. The world-building is rather impressive and I like the characters well enough. A decent start 🙂

RECENTLY READ

Throne of the Crescent Moon (The Crescent Moon Kingdoms #1) by Saladin Ahmed

15808366Blurb:

From Saladin Ahmed, finalist for the Nebula and Campbell Awards, comes one of the year’s most acclaimed debuts: a fantasy adventure with all the magic of The Arabian Nights.

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. But these killings are only the earliest signs of a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn the great city of Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.

I rather enjoyed this one. The non-European setting was definitely a plus for me. It’s been a while since I read a fantasy that centres on different culture than I’m accustomed to. The world building was strong and the characters were well developed, for the most part. Definitely a promising start to a series.

The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

24875334Blurb:

Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married to a rich and charming widower, eager to join him on his tea plantation, determined to be the perfect wife and mother. But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected. The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbours treacherous. And there are clues to the past – a dusty trunk of dresses, an overgrown gravestone in the grounds – that her husband refuses to discuss. Just as Gwen finds her feet, disaster strikes. She faces a terrible choice, hiding the truth from almost everyone, but a secret this big can’t stay buried forever . . .

To be perfectly honest, I have mixed feelings about this book. It was a good read, but nothing exceptional. The descriptions were beautiful, the historical setting definitely caught my attention, but the characters fell flat for me. There were also a lot of time jumps which I found to be more jarring and dissociated me from the story. I wanted to enjoy it more, because the potential was there, and though the ending proved superior to everything that came before, it didn’t come soon enough to redeem the whole story.

The Hero and the Crown (Damar #2) by Robin McKinley

1215136Blurb:

Aerin could not remember a time when she had not known the story; she had grown up knowing it.

It was the story of her mother, the witchwoman who enspelled the king into marrying her, to get an heir that would rule Damar; and it was told that she turned her face to the wall and died of despair when she found she had borne a daughter instead of a son.
Aerin was that daughter.

But there was more of the story yet to be told; Aerin’s destiny was greater than even she had dreamed–for she was to be the true hero who would wield the power of the Blue Sword…

The last book I finished this week, was my favourite. BY FAR. I love McKinley’s writing style. I love Aerin. I love the way the story is uncontrived. It was a classic fantasy, reminiscent of Mary Stewart and JRR Tolkein in many respects. Also, I haven’t felt so inclined to ship a pairing in a while as I have with two characters (won’t specify for spoilers) in this beautiful story. A quick read, and a mesmerizing one!

READING NEXT

Vicious by V.E. Schwab was supposed to be one of my November reads, but the person I’m supposed to buddy read it with (aka my sister :P) is still reading another book, so it might be postponed to December. In light of that, I have a few NetGalley ebooks to read, and of course Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling. I’ll see how I feel after Fay Storms.


That’s it for me friends 🙂 Feel free to share your link in the comments or let me know what you’ve been up to in the reading world!

May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,

Faith quill-ink

WWW Wednesday | The Nineteenth

Happy Wednesday friends 🙂

As ever, today is a chance to share the love of reading and discover new books across the blogosphere thanks to WWW Wednesday, hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

Care to join in sharing your weekly reads, all you have to do is answer these 3 questions:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

It’s actually been a hard last few days to fit in reading, what with visiting Vieux-Québec on Monday and then yesterday going to see Star Trek Beyond (not my favourite movie I’ll say that much). But I still managed to get through all my to read nexts from last week, so that’s a plus!

Note: All covers/blurbs are from Goodreads.


WHAT I AM CURRENTLY READING

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

9118135Blurb:

In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, scientific miracles, and spiritual transformations, State of Wonder presents a world of stunning surprise and danger, rich in emotional resonance and moral complexity.

As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infested Amazon, she will be forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle. Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, a researcher who has disappeared while working on a valuable new drug, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness. Stirring and luminous, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss beneath the rain forest’s jeweled canopy.

This is one of those books that’s been sitting on my shelves for 5+ years and I thought it was about time I give it a shot. It’s not a typical read for me, but I’m in the mood to be adventurous, so away we go 🙂

WHAT I RECENTLY FINISHED READING

Witch Infernal (Infernal Hunt #3) by Holly Evans

Witch Infernal (Infernal Hunt Book 3) by [Evans, Holly]Blurb:

Evelyn Hawke wasn’t made for the quiet life. She’s bored.

Luckily for her, things start going wrong, and she’s expected to fix everyone else’s problems. A trio of celestials task Evie and her friends with the job of tracking down the witch who opened the hellmouth and putting an end to her. Little do they know that the witch has big plans and a far-reaching influence.

Oh! I had missed Evie! I bought the third installment in the brilliant Infernal Hunt series the day it was released and devoured it as I had the previous two. Holly does such an amazing job of bringing Prague to life as Evie leads us through the hectic life of a hunter. Plus the supporting cast of characters are such fun to be around. What’s most impressive is how the books have matured with Evie. There’s so much character development blended in with action sequences. A delightful urban fantasy series you should definitely check out!

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant

Blurb:

142939Birth of Venus, draws readers into a turbulent 15th-century Florence, a time when the lavish city, steeped in years of Medici family luxury, is suddenly besieged by plague, threat of invasion, and the righteous wrath of a fundamentalist monk. Dunant masterfully blends fact and fiction, seamlessly interweaving Florentine history with the coming-of-age story of a spirited 14-year-old girl. As Florence struggles in Savonarola’s grip, a serial killer stalks the streets, the French invaders creep closer, and young Alessandra Cecchi must surrender her “childish” dreams and navigate her way into womanhood.

I was looking forward to a historical fiction and I had heard good things about this book but, while I did enjoy the beginning well enough, I felt that the story didn’t have as much direction as I had hoped it would. Maybe it was the mindset I was in reading it, but I couldn’t get into the story at all, though the writing was beautiful. I just wish that some elements had been better developed. I did enjoy parts of it, though, and still intend to read more of Dunant’s works in the future.

On a more positive note, this marked by 80th read this year 😄

A Swiftly Twisting Planet (Time Quintet #3) by Madeleine L’Engle

195816

Blurb (edited to avoid spoilers):

He and Gaudior must travel into the past on the winds of time to try to find a Might-Have-Been – a moment in the past when the entire course of events leading to the present can be changed, and the future of Earth – this small, swiftly tilting planet – saved.

So, I finished this book last night and I am still in awe of how powerful Madeleine L’Engle’s stories are. This third installment is just as magical as the first two, but there is a new level of maturity in it too that the first two did not have, the story developing and growing with the characters. It made for a rather profound and thoughtful read. I can’t believe it took me so long to discover these childhood classics, but I am inspired ❤

WHAT I KNOW I’LL BE READING NEXT

A lot of sequels 😉

Speaker for the Dead (The Ender Quintet #3): by Orson Scott Card

7967

 

I’m skipping the blurb on this one because I don’t want to spoil the original story for anyone.

While this is considered to be the third in the series, it’s the second published so I’m going to read it as such. I read Ender’s Game a long, long, long time ago and it really affected me. Deeply. Such a profound novel. I don’t tend to read Sci-Fi, but wow! That book just hooked me in and wouldn’t let go. I’ve had the sequel on my shelf for a while, but haven’t been in the mood for it until now. I hear wonderful things.

In the meantime, I highly recommend you discover Ender’s Game for yourself because it’s brilliant!

The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders #2) by Robin Hobb

771713

BLURB:

Robin Hobb returns to the sea with Mad Ship, the second book in a projected trilogy set in the same world as her famed Farseer series. Many unresolved questions from Ship of Magic are answered in this tale of sea serpents and dragons; living ships made of wizardwood; the Bingtown Trader families who sail the ships; and their disfigured cousins, the Rain Wild Traders, who build them.

I was supposed to read this a few weeks ago, but by the time I got to it, I found I wasn’t ready, so I placed it aside. Now, I’m going to try again and hope for better motivation 🙂

AND

Justice Hall (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #6) by Laurie R. King

6494790Blurb:

Only hours after Holmes and Russell return from solving one riddle on the moor, another knocks on their front door…literally.

It’s a mystery that begins during the Great War, when Gabriel Hughenfort died amidst scandalous rumors that have haunted the family ever since. But it’s not until Holmes and Russell arrive at Justice Hall, a home of unearthly perfection set in a garden modeled on Paradise, that they fully understand the irony echoed in the family motto, Justicia fortitudo mea est: “Righteousness is my strength.”

A trail of ominous clues leads Holmes and Russell from an English hamlet to fashionable Paris to the wild prairie of the New World. But as the moment of reckoning approaches, will justice be done…or have they been lured straight into an elusive killer’s perfectly baited trap?

It’s been a while since I last read one of these so I’m looking forward to it. Mary is such a wonderful protagonist and the last story set her too far in the background for my liking. Here’s hoping she shines more in this one!


Well, that’s it for me friends! Please share your own reading adventures or WWW link in the comments. Let’s keep the love of books ever growing!

May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,

Faith    quill-ink