27 Nov 2019

Wind from the Wilderness by Suzannah M. Rowntree Review

Watchers of Outremer #1
422 Pages, October 29th 2018, Print and Ebook

Hunted by demons. Lost in time.

Welcome to the First Crusade.

Syria, 636: As heretic invaders circle Jerusalem, young Lukas Bessarion vows to defend his people. Instead, disaster strikes.

His family is ripped apart. His allies are slaughtered. And Lukas is hurled across the centuries to a future where his worst nightmares have come true...

Constantinople, 1097: Ayla may be a heretic beggar, but she knows one thing for sure: nine months from now, she will die. Before then, she must avenge her father's murder--or risk losing her soul.

Desperate to find their way home, Lukas and Ayla join the seven armies marching east to liberate Jerusalem. If Lukas succeeds in his quest, he'll undo the invasion and change the course of history.

But only if he survives the war.

Only if his enemies from the past don't catch him.

And only as long as Ayla never finds out who he really is.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I rarely finish a book of this length in 2 days (well really a little over 2), but I had the time and inclination. I actually only read it because I agreed to be an early reader on the second book and wanted to catch up

I'm glad I did. Wind From the Wilderness really was a breathtaking, thrilling, rollercoaster of a ride through period of the First Crusade . Readers be prepared: this is not your typical Historical fiction. It has Time Travel, and evil sorcerer alongside the labyrinthine politics of the Medieval Near East.
Throughout it all out hero Lukas Bessarion must survive in a culture and time entirely alien to him, and endure a grueling trek through the mountains and deserts of Asia Minor with the armies of the Baron's Crusade, enduring battles, physical privations and bullying whilst trying to figure out a way to get home. As well as coming to terms with his feelings for the Turkish girl Ayra.

Oh, and he's also being chased by an evil harpy demon in the form of a vulture that brings death and misery in its wake, whilst trying to find out the identify of the mysterious group known as The Vowed, who may be tied up with the fate of his family.

There are battles and fights. The former of which are meticulously researched. Honestly, I think this has some of the best and most accurate descriptions of 11th century French battle tactics I've ever encountered in fiction. What's more it avoids an overly partisan view of the Crusades.
So many authors choose to depict the Franks and Western Christians in a one dimensional way, as greedy and stupid religious fanatics, whilst the Byzantines are long-suffering Saints and the Turks Enlightened humanitarians reluctantly driven to give up their pacifism.

If the complex motives and personalities are anything to go by the Byzantines, Armenians and Turks were truly about as bad as each other.

The only concerns I had were few, and mostly about the theological treatment of different religions (mostly the treatment of Islam and Christianity as essentially the same).
Apart from these though, Wind from the Wilderness is a truly magnificent read. Much recommended. 

11 Nov 2019

Diamond in the Rough by Jen Turano Review

American Heiresses #2
Bethany House, September 3rd 2019, 349 Pages
Print, Ebook and Audio 

When Miss Poppy Garrison accepts her grandmother's offer of financial help for her family in exchange for Poppy joining the New York social season, she quickly realizes she is far less equipped to mingle with the New York Four Hundred than even she knew. As she becomes embroiled in one hilarious fiasco after another, becoming the diamond of the first water her grandmother longs her to be looks more impossible by the day.

Reginald Blackburn, second son of a duke, is in New York to help his cousin find an American heiress who can help save his family's estate. But when his very proper British manners lead Poppy's grandmother to request he teach etiquette to Poppy, he quickly finds himself in for much more than he bargained for.

And while they couldn't be more opposite, Reginald and Poppy just might find they have more to teach each other than they ever could have expected.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Diamond in the Rough was not the type of book I normally read. In fact, its my first Jen Turano book. It was great fun, sometimes laugh out loud fun, with the accident prone Poppy and her antics. She always seemed to be getting into trouble: and usually in a funny way. In an early scene she ends up with her top end hanging out of a window.

What with that and her unconventional family situation, she's far from a typical debutante, but she nevertheless catches the eye of Reginald Blackburn. In fact a couple of times he has to catch her physically. And rescue her on a couple of occasions. This is not done in a degrading way, it comes over as charming and its all part of the fiascos she gets into , often because she's trying to help someone herself.

At times, I must admit it was a little hard to keep track of all the characters, but overall I enjoyed this story as a light and fun read set in New York in the late 1860s.

The only thing I felt was a little implausible was that Poppy and even Reginald extreme surprise at the plight of the poor, and the implication they had basically never seen a poor person. There were charitable organization and projects to help the poor in Britain at this time and before, I think Reginald would not have been quite so naive.

Thanks to the Publisher via Netgalley for allowing me to read this book at my request. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

8 Nov 2019

First Line Fridays: An Artful Match by Jennifer Delamere

Its been over a month since I last posted. I know: life happens. I'm going post  to today the First Line from one of the books I'm currently reading. 

The Artful Match by Jennifer Delamare: London Beginnings #3  



This book came out back in April, and I've only just got around to reading the Netgalley book now. Since I've read the first two books in the series set in and around Victorian London, I think its about time I read this one. 

Also, I have three books in my Netgalley library which were published by Bethany Housse in the first part of the year. So yeah, I need to get around to them. 

Today's First Line comes from Chapter One (though I am on Chapter 6). 

 "It was going to be a fine day - no matter what anyone might say about it"

  Click the Meme to see what others are reading, and Comment with your own First Line.

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