A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

Summary

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Characters

I was not very fond of Diana for most of the book. Her strong points seemed more like flaws most of the time. Made it really hard to connect and like her. Michael was another creature all together. I found his chapter very enjoyable…and then I was like, why aren’t there more? It is like it introduces him and his point of view and then abandons it for over half the book. I liked a lot of the supporting characters but some of them were a little bland. There were also a few times it felt like it left Diana’s point of view which was confusing.

Plot

Diana doesn’t want to be a witch. Her parents are dead because they were witches but her magic isn’t listening very well. Which is only made worse when she stumbles onto the Ashmore and then a vampire. A love story wrapped in a historical bow with a dash of magic and mayhem.

This plot winds around and constantly says it is going to do one thing and then does something else. It would be like going shopping for milk but getting distracted by bread and then the eggs because we might need those too. The story was never straight forward so be prepared.

Overall

For what this book was…it was way too long. I nearly quit reading this book multiple times, only sticking with it because I was so impressed by the research and the fact that it had been recommended to me. I enjoyed it overall but I won’t be reading any more of the series. Amazing amount of research was done to make the historical aspects seemingly flawless. It was punctuated by a romance that would have been more enjoyable if it had been more believable. I get being attracted quickly and even loving quickly but they jumped into the deep end super quickly and I just had a hard time jumping into the deep end with them.

Rating

3.5 Stars (round down)

If you love the writing of historical novels that have paranormal romantic plots, this is a must read. It just wasn’t for me.

Where I got a copy?

Purchased at a local bookstore—Fireside Books.

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Heir to a Prophecy by Mercedes Rochelle

Summary

Shakespeare’s Witches tell Banquo, Thou Shalt Get Kings Though Thou Be None. Though Banquo is murdered, his son Fleance gets away. What happened to Fleance? As Shakespeare’s audience apparently knew, Banquo was the ancestor of the royal Stewart line. But the road to kingship had a most inauspicious beginning, and we follow Fleance into exile and death, bestowing the Witches prophecy on his illegitimate son Walter. Born in Wales and raised in disgrace, Walter’s efforts to understand Banquo’s murder and honor his lineage take him on a long and treacherous journey through England and France before facing his destiny in Scotland.

Amazon Link

Characters

This book mostly follows Walter, but it doesn’t start there. It starts with Fleance. Walter is an interesting character to follow. However, there are lots and lots of characters that you’ll meet. This story isn’t told from their point of view but rather in a narrative voice…most of the time. Sometimes the story-line dips into third person, making the POVs fluid. This actually gibes the novel a visceral feel.

Plot

This story is not so much about characters. It is a story of lives. Lives lived and lost.  Set in the 1000s. It has a historical novel feel with a overlay of a fictional backdrop. Prophecy and an established story results in many of the plot points being predictable…right up to the end. This story starts almost as abruptly as it ends—which was a bit of a bump in the road for me. It takes you on a journey though, an interesting and unexpected journey.

Overall

The writing has a historical feel and is long winded. Takes on a telling style, rather than showing, because of the narrative like writing. That being said there are some very powerful lines. However, the past and future story telling can be very jarring at times. Like someone reading a book and paraphrasing as they read. Which means it sort of meanders and then just ends. Very abruptly. The journey until you get there is interesting.

Rating

3.5 (rounded up)

Readers of historical novels and those who like Shakespeare will enjoy this book. It takes you on a winding tale.

Where did I get a copy?

Author sent me a copy. This is a voluntary review.

Echoes in Time by Cherie Mitchell

Summary

When Zoe and her best friend Jamie find themselves hurtling through time on an adventure she could never have dreamed possible, Zoe quickly learns that perhaps modern-day teenagers don’t have it so bad after all.

From Ancient Greece to the last voyage of the Hindenburg, from Victorian England to the Wild West, from Viking-era Scandinavia to convict-era Botany Bay and old Egypt, and many, many more recognizable periods in history, Zoe discovers that in times gone by teenagers lived a very different life to the one which she and Jamie enjoy in 2017.

But how can the girls find their way back home to their own place in time? The aperture appears to instantly open and move them on whenever the girls are in any kind of danger, but they don’t seem to have a choice as to which part of history they will end up in next. Or do they?

Can Zoe discover the answer to the riddle given to her by their new friend Baozhai’s Chinese grandmother – and will the answer help them find their way home? And will Jamie’s attitude help or hinder the girls’ chances of safely returning to where they belong?

Characters

I just couldn’t connect with either Zoe or Jamie. Jamie was over the top may times and very one dimensional. When I actually saw hope that she might change about halfway through, I was sorely disappointed it did not take. Zoe was equally as disappointing but she at least grew some with the novel and developed into more of a two dimensional character. Recognizing her adventure for what it was. Unfortunately most of the characters were very flat. Baozhai presented as an interesting character but is gone before I could even connect with her.

Plot

I couldn’t discern any logic in their zigzag through time but it was very interesting. A lesson and reminder that we are fortunate to live in our present time. A lesson that we as a species have grown but only by looking back can we move forward and grow. I can tell the author went to great lengths to stay historically accurate and I was very impressed by the span of history. However, I did not see the point of moving into the future…that was very random!

Overall

If you like history this is an interesting and quick read. This is not a character driven novel, really more about the bouncing from one historical event to another, all highlighting the life of teenagers throughout the world during different iconic times. It also touches on important aspects of being a woman in all of those times as well. It was very informative and it was nice to see that the characters didn’t just visit fun places. The holocaust being among the locations in addition to Pompeii. You are in for one wild ride!

Rating

3 stars

If you like history and would like to learn about different times this is a fun read, just don’t pay too close attention to the characters.

This is a voluntary review.

The Tudor Heresy by Samantha Burnell

An Introduction to the Tudor Mystery Trials

A gripping Historical Adventure set in 16th Century Tudor England. Elizabeth Tudor needs a hero. Murder, Mystery & Intrigue with a Splash of Romance.

Based on actual historical events, an epic tale of a young Tudor nobleman’s courage as he tries to keep his future Queen safe in one of England’s most turbulent eras.

If you enjoy Tudor Fiction by Phillipa Gregory and Alison Weir then ‘A Queens Spy’ is perfect for you. A fascinating insight into Tudor England and the life of Elizabeth I before she sets foot on the steps to the throne.

The story unfolds in 16th Century Tudor England

Richard Fitzwarren is a Tudor nobleman with a dubious past who takes risks for a living.

His close friendship with Princess Elizabeth leads to his banishment to France, but when he returns he remains loyal to her.

At his side is Jack, his bastard sibling, and their relationship is a troubled one due to a family secret and their opposite personalities.

Will he keep the future Queen safe?

Overall

I would like to start off by saying I love Tudor history. I jumped at the chance to read this and it was very enjoyable. It was a bit jerky at times following from one year to another without any introduction or transition, but I appreciated the writing style was very succinct and to the point. This made for a quick read. The brutality of the era was well depicted. I could for sure see reading and enjoying more about Jack and Richard as Elisabeth comes to power. There were a few POV shifts, but it felt more of a narration so it didn’t feel jarring after the first time it happened. The verbiage felt right for the era and I was impressed with correct terminology being applied in more than one place.

Rating

4 stars

Overall a very enjoyable historical short story to whet ones appetite. If you are in need of a short story to pass the time – I’d recommend this one!

I received this book for a free and voluntarily review.

Seasons of Love and War by Brenda Ashworth Barry

Summary

SEASONS OF LOVE AND WAR is a historical family saga and epic love story. Childhood sweethearts Beth Ann Rose and Kaylob Shawn O’Brien just want to get married and pursue their dream careers, but the Vietnam War changes everything when Kaylob is drafted into the Army and declared dead. Beth Ann has a complete emotional melt down and starts to have visions of him in the jungles of Vietnam. Is he alive or has she completely lost her mind?

Characters

Kaylob, Beth Ann, and Blake are the three main characters. Although I liked both Kaylob and Blake to certain extents, I couldn’t bring myself to like Beth Ann. She reminded me as a lead in a trashy soap opera. By the end of the book I absolutely loathed her – to the point that I didn’t think she deserved anyone and I wished very much that things end poorly for her. She was not what I would define as a strong woman. Her reaction when Kaylob first goes missing was absolutely over the top. Most of her actions, in one way or another, were understandable  in some regard, but it was the way she handled them that was STUPID. She was a spineless selfish little creature that I hope ends up dying in a horrible way to match her horrible little personality – very similar to my emotions toward Catherine of Wuthering Heights. The supporting characters were fine, I actually liked Jake and Carol. I won’t even mention her long term friend because I’ll just start another rant on how much I disliked Beth Ann. Plus I don’t want to ruin any of the story.

Plot

Very interesting plot. The historical aspects of this book seemed to spot on. Anything I wasn’t 100 sure of, I actually googled really quickly and was impressed that the author did their homework. A hurrah because this was presented as a more historical novel. Wanting to find out what happened to Kaylob was hands down the number one reason I went through the book. I didn’t realize when I picked this book that it couldn’t stand alone. That was very disappointing because more than once I thought “was that really necessary?” Though that may have been due more to my dislike of the main character.

The war zone pieces were great…but they were entirely centered on Kaylob’s love for Beth Ann. I get that it was their connection – but for a historical novel I thought we’d see a little more of what was happening to him and his fellow soldiers. What we did see were some of the best parts of the novel and I absolutely love Kaylob for them. Where the author failed with Beth Ann in my eyes, Kaylob was wonderful. Not perfect, but wonderful. Plus I’m not 100% sure where the author was going with the more supernatural part of the book with Beth Ann’s visions. You’ll see what I mean.

Overall

The writing was well done and easy to follow. The plot wasn’t perfect but did keep me engaged. I would point out that a few parts felt a little convenient – like when John Patterson calls Beth Ann. I also felt there were a few logical fallacies that were overlooked, but most of them were minor and had to do with Beth Ann’s decision making in general. The historical references were spot on as far as I could tell – which was a huge win in my mind. I truly thought that my general dislike of Beth Ann would fade as the author built the character up and made her stronger. Instead she kept her a pouting selfish brat, who I could never sympathize with because she always seemed to be using those who were good-natured.

Rating

2.5 stars (rounded up to 3)

If you like Wuthering Heights or soap operas you will love this book – it just wasn’t my favorite. As a historical novel this was a win, but as a romance for me it was an epic fail.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. More reviews at creatingworldswithwords.wordpress.com.