Book Review – Historical Fiction

Book Review – The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman.

5 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Kensington Books for granting my wish and allowing me to read an electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Wow! What a book! I mean, seriously addictive and so full of emotions! As some people know, I’m not usually a fan of Literary Fiction but I sometimes get in the mood to give it another go and hope the book I read is worth it. ‘The Life She Was Given’ was definitely worth it! I want to go on about how certain areas of the book made me feel, but I am concerned mentioning them would be one great big spoiler…

So I will just say some of the full circle moments were heart aching and so well written I needed a tissue! I am not a crier! Well, except for those animal ads, you know the ones. 😉

But, yes, this was a brilliantly well-written tale told in two halves about the one family. Parts of it set in the 1930’s and parts of it set in the 1950’s and  – although I’m not an expert –  I do feel some good, solid research went into writing in both eras and in both locations – one a manor house/ horse farm, and the other a travelling circus.

The stories are woven so well together, linking in subtle ways that the story runs seamlessly. Sometimes when you get two different stories running in the same book they are very disjointed and hodge podge. Not in ‘The Life She Was Given’. No – seamless writing!

What can I say about ‘The Life She Was Given’ without giving anything away? Well, it is a very emotional journey through both eras, the characters are well written and I found myself connecting with them to enjoy the ride (even through the sad bits) and boy was it addictive! My kids were told to fend for themselves on Saturday (they are 12, 10 and 8 so can do the basics) as I simply HAD to keep reading!

The only issues I found with this book – and it has absolutely nothing to do with the author, which is why I didn’t mark it down in my score – is that the eBook formatting was blocky and jumbled in places. New paragraphs starting mid-sentence, the title and page number of the book appearing mid page… EBook formatting can be a pain at times and one little glitch and cause a whole series of issues… But as it was an ARC I read I merely assumed that Kensington Books would have it all sorted and that the final version will be perfect.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. Lovers of historical fiction and literary fiction, even women’s fiction, are going to enjoy ‘The Life She Was Given’. I was raving over it so much my 12 year old wants to have a read… but I feel – despite her above average levels of maturity and intelligence – that I wouldn’t recommend it to her. Yes teen girls like to adventure into this genre but their raw, developing emotions might get a little too hurt in reading this. It’s not a horror book or a completely sad tale… but there are moments where you may want to just put the book down for a moment and hug the cat or child or something.


Would I buy this book for myself?

Tough call. I mean, I did love it and am still walking off the book hangover it’s given me. But my underlying aversion to literary fiction does make me baulk at going out and buying my own copy. What a miser I am being! It is an amazingly heart felt and emotional roller coaster of a book – wow I can’t believe I was just that corny – but, yeah, some books touch you in such a way they are better as library books than ones you personally own.

As in, they are kept offsite and away from you, but you have access to them when you want to feel the way they make you feel… does that make sense? No, no I don’t think it does! But it’s how I feel. Love the book, not too sure I would want to possess it as it needs to be free. LOL! Ignore me, it’s Monday and my Crio Brü mug is in the wash.


In summary: A brilliant, well-written literary fiction that is going to tug at the heart strings while keeping you wanting more. Highly recommend.

Until next time,


Book Review – The Lady Who Lived Again by Thomasine Rappold.

4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Kensington Books for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

‘The Lady who lived again’ was a very enjoyable little read. Although not the most historically accurate of historical romances I have read, I don’t care as it made up for it with the romance, the character’s personalities and that little touch of the supernatural. And I really do wish I could explain WHY I didn’t feel it historically accurate enough… there was just something to the personalities and mindsets I couldn’t come to believe. But I still loved the characters, the setting and pace of this book so did not let such a minor niggle get in the road of me enjoying the read.

It was a perfect escape from reality to fill up a few hours for me at a stressful time and therefore a well written book that, for me, did what I expected it to.

Although I’ve not read any other works by Ms Rappold, I can see myself looking for her the next time I need a bit of romantic escapism. I really enjoyed her writing style, her characters; the whole small town setting of Misty Lake and her romance and sex scenes were just the right balance without being over the top and being the only reason the book was written. Yes, call me a prude, but I’m not a fan of romance novels that seem to rely solely on constant graphical sex to sell it. ‘The Lady who lived again’ has just the right balance to titillate and entertain, but not so much as it takes over the story and actually destroys the romance and suspense of just exactly HOW the happily ever after will occur… and will it actually occur?

Would I recommend this book to others? I would, but would point out it’s not the most historically accurate of tales. Sorry, I hate to be so picky (as I really enjoyed the story) but, yeah, skim the inaccuracies and just enjoy the budding romance.

Would I buy this book for myself? Possibly. Though, to be honest, it’s more the sort of thing I would borrow from my library to escape with as needed. I did enjoy it a lot and I am keen to read more by this author… but I’m still undecided as to whether I’d own it. If I feel myself craving to return and relive Jace and Maddie’s romance in a few months’ time… then obviously I should own it so I can grab and read at whim.

In summary: A fantastic bit of escapism through a well written romance with a bit of a supernatural twist. I liked the characters, the setting and the pace and look forward to reading more from this author when I can.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

Book Review – Field of Mars : Episode 1 by David Rollins.

Field of Mars

2 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Momentum Books for providing me with an ARC of this book via Netgalley for an open and honest review.

Okay, I’m going to start with the positives as I feel this book does deserve some, despite my rating.

This is a very detailed story. It does capture the imagination and paint a clear and precise picture for the reader. It is well written and I do give big thumbs up to Mr Rollins for that.

Sadly, I didn’t like the story that much. The introduction done in first person nearly put me off even finishing the book. But I read other people’s reviews about how that was just the first part of the book so I gave it more time and found it readable once it switched to third person.

Being a fan of historical fiction set in Rome (Roma actually), I have some idea of life there and the usual goings on. And so to find a mildly graphical sex scene in just the introductory pages… as this is meant to be an historical fiction and not an historical romance, I was disappointed in the need to try and draw the reader in with sex. Oh, don’t call me a prude! There is a genre and place for it and it really wasn’t needed here and really just cheapened the book for me. It felt like it was trying to get the reader interested in the story by suggesting there was more ‘naughty bits’ to come. A good writer – and I have said Mr Rollins comes across as a good writer – shouldn’t have to use such tactics to draw the reader in. It was one of the main things that put me off wanting to read more.

Saying that, I also couldn’t see – despite the information given as to why – how it could be the historian telling the whole story. How did he know about Rufinius? He was up with Crassus the whole time. And where was he at the end of the book? How can he still be telling the tale when he’s not even mentioned after the final fight?

I know this book is the first in a series and the answers to these questions may become obvious in the later stories, but for now it’s not gelling with me at all. I found it just added to the first part of the book being a waste of time and just used to draw in the type of reader hoping to cop an eyeful of sex later on.

As I have said, it is a well written book; I did like parts of it, mostly when dealing with the Legionary, but not enough to encourage me to seek more information on Rufinius in the next book in the series.

Would I recommend this book to others? Maybe. I really don’t know. Being a fan of historical fiction set in ancient Rome, I may mention it in passing to anyone after something of that era to read… but then again I might not. Though I would mention David Rollins as a good author and suggest people seeking an interesting Australian author look him up.

Would I buy this book for myself? Sadly no. I might read the next in the series if I was to come across it in the library, but I’d not go out of my way to find it. I might just stick to the likes of Steven Saylor when I next need my ancient Roma historical fiction fix.

So in summary, it’s a well written book and I’m pretty sure there are people out there who will really enjoy it, I just wasn’t one of them. The fault is in the reader and book not gelling, not in the book itself.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO