Holy crap, I love this WordPress theme so much I’m going to keep it ALL YEAR LONG. No, I haven’t started drinking yet, it’s only 11:15 a.m. on a Tuesday.
- Title(s): The Bronze Bow
- Author: Elizabeth George Speare
- Series: N/A
- Genre(s): Historical, Young Adult
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, 1961
- Source: Purchased ($1.99 ebook promo, $1.99 audio)
- Length: 256 pages (7.5 hours)
- Trope(s): Coming of Age, Angry Young Man, Revenge and Redemption
- Quick blurb: Young blacksmith’s dreams of avenging his father’s death are disrupted by the unwanted responsibilities of adulthood — and his encounters with a charismatic traveling preacher.
- Quick review: Now THIS is how to write historical fiction.
- Grade: B+ for story, A for narration
He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
This book won the Newbery Medal in 1962, and I can’t believe I’ve never read it before. The historical world-building is utterly enthralling, and narrator Pete Bradbury made the complex characters vivid and unique — I was there every minute, and there were more than a few times I lingered in the parking lot when I arrived at work to listen just a few minutes longer.
The plot went in directions I never expected, and I loved how the secondary characters grew and changed — even more so than the main character. Just when you think Daniel has finally gotten his head out of his nether regions, he has another hissy fit about something and must begin his spiritual and emotional journey all over again. My frustrations with his self-centered cluelessness lowered the grade a bit, but this book might just have a place on the DIK list.
- Title: Against the Tide
- Author: Elizabeth Camden
- Genre(s): Historical, Inspiration
- Publisher: Bethany House, October 2012
- Source: Publisher
- Length: 362 pages
- Trope(s): Enigmatic Loner Hero, Tough but Nearly Desperate Heroine, Villain With a Fatal Weakness, Kidnapping, Addiction
- Quick blurb: Naval translator gets drawn into a former opium smuggler’s quest for redemption.
- Quick review: Another one for the “Written JUST FOR ME” category.
- Grade: A-
I’m always on the hunt for new and different in romance, and when it comes in the form of an inspirational historical suspense story centering on the opium trade in late 19th-century Boston – with a gorgeous cover as a bonus – I am helpless to resist.
I’ve read Against the Tide three times now, and I’ve been sitting on this review for months because I’m both enthralled and a bit conflicted. The characters are complex and memorable, and the setting and suspense had me in a full-on book trance even on the second and third reads. Only one element in the narrative bothered me enough to add a minus instead of a plus to the letter grade, but it’s one that’s central to the story.
- Title: Untamed
- Author: Anna Cowan
- Genre(s): Historical
- Publisher: Penguin Books Australia, May 2013
- Source: NetGalley
- Length: 432 pages
- Trope(s): Heroine Who Says the F-Word, Hero Who’s Prettier Than The Heroine, Evil Gambling Father, Tragic Pasts, Sibling/Parent Issues, Deceit & Manipulation
- Quick blurb: A dandy in disguise changes the lives of a disgraced and debt-ridden family.
- Quick review: Again with the Book Anxiety, but a better outcome this time.
- Grade: C+
“I will write a book of bad ideas,” she said, pulling viciously at the buttons on her sleeve, “and the final chapter will be dedicated to this epic, gravity-defying feat of stupidity. And in a hundred years a celebrated English wordsmith will come across it and write a poetic tribute to the very bad idea that malformed in the brain of one demented duke. His work will run to eleven volumes before his vocabulary has even begun to do justice to how extremely bad this idea is.”
Oy. I need to quit whining for new and different, because more like this is going to kill me.
This took me longer than I thought, because I wound up doing a full re-read of one, and I had to buy and read the newest because it finished off a series.
So… Here are the highs and lows of Harlequin Historical author Sophia James, presented in chronological order (minus the anthologies). Cover images link to Goodreads.
In summary: James is on the dark and angsty edge of Harlequin Historicals — her characters are complex and conflicted, and when she stays away from rakes and pirates, her storytelling skills are memorable. But it’s hit or miss whether all the pieces and parts coalesce enough to suck me into a full-on book trance.
For round two of our romp through Viking romance, we’ll focus on three vintage titles from the beloved old-skool era of Forced Seduction, Logic Fail and General WTFery.
I didn’t finish any of these — I dragged myself through the first half of each, but couldn’t find any reason to finish.
We’ll start with the least painful and save the vomit-worthy one for last.
We’ll subtitle this post….
The maiden voyage
As part of my Haul of Half-Off Harlequins, I wound up with two Viking romances, chosen primarily for the snark value. Unfortunately, both were actually pretty good.
But, of course, these books kicked off a Viking-theme book binge, which dredged up one ridiculously fun PNR mashup, several “meh” examples, and one so-called “classic” that left me cringing.
Before we set sail, I must admit I know fuck-all about actual Vikings or Norse mythology. I did learn that the proper homage to Thor for a successful pillage was a goat sacrifice, and you know how I feel about goats.
ANYWAY, it’s time to put on our pointy-horned hats and go raiding.