Review: The Twelfth Child by Bette Lee Crosby

“Trust, love and friendship—Abigail Anne Lannigan searched for these things all her life; now, when she is at the tail end of her years she teams up with a free-spirited young woman, a nobody from nowhere, who suddenly moves in across the street. It’s an unlikely friendship which comes under suspicion when a distant relative, claims embezzlement. One million dollars is missing and only Abigail knows the truth of what happened – but, she’ll never get the chance to tell.

The Twelfth Child, a novel rich with emotion, humor and tenderness, explores the splintered relationships of a Shenandoah Valley family and their willful daughter’s struggle to survive America’s Great Depression and overcome the past.”

Goodreads


My review:

The Twelfth Child is the second book I have read by Bette Crosby. Her unqiue style of writing is timeless and her character building is inspiring. I admired the protagonist Abigial and her resilience to life and situation. She is a character of strength and courage, we can all learn a lesson from.

Bette has such a way with words that you feel the happiness, love, hate, sadness, greed, and outrage of the characters. You know you’re reading a good story when you feel such emotions for the characters and their plight. They’re like real people you know and love.

This is a deeply moving story that touches the core of your heart. Bette truly is a talented writer and a wonderful story teller.

Stephanie
Layered Pages

I will be holding an interview with one of Bette’s characters, Destiny! You won’t want to miss it! More information coming soon!

Concubine Saga by Lloyd Lofthouse

“No Westerner has ever achieved Robert Hart’s status and level of power in China. Driven by a passion for his adopted country, Hart became the “godfather of China’s modernism,” inspector general of China’s Customs Service, and the builder of China’s railroads, postal and telegraph systems and schools. However, his first real love is Ayaou, a young concubine. Sterling Seagrave, in Dragon Lady, calls her Hart’s sleep-in dictionary and says she was wise beyond her years. Soon after arriving in China in 1854, Hart falls in love with Ayaou, but his feelings for her sister go against the teachings of his Christian upbringing and almost break him emotionally. To survive he must learn how to live and think like the Chinese. He also finds himself thrust into the Opium Wars and the Taiping Rebellion, the bloodiest rebellion in human history, where he makes enemies of men such as the American soldier of fortune known as the Devil Soldier. During his early years in China, Robert experiences a range of emotion from bliss to despair. Like Damascus steel, he learns to be both hard and flexible, which forges his character into the great man he becomes. Full of humanity, passion, and moral honesty, The Concubine Saga is the deeply intimate story of Hart’s loyalty and love for his adopted land and the woman who captured his heart. Historical fiction potboiler, yes. But where The Concubine Saga truly shines is its thought-provoking passages on relationships, attitudes and cultural differences. The heated dialogue between Hart and Ayaou will especially touch a nerve for any westerner who has ever lived and loved in China…” Thomas Carter, photojournalist and author of “China: Portrait of a People”

Goodreads

My review:

When I first started to read this story, I found it a little difficult to read because I felt so dismayed over the the way of life of the Chinese and the men’s treatment of their women. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to stomach it and continue. But I did continue and I’m glad I did….

As Robert first comes to China, I could only imagine the culture shocked he experienced. But he certainly embraces their way of life quickly and as the story unfolds he comes into power that is just incredible. I learned a great deal about China in the 1800’s by reading this story and I applaud Lofthouse for his vivid details and well researched novel.

I rated this novel three and a half stars.

Stephanie
Layered Pages

Review: Four Sisters, All Queens by Sherry Jones

From the award-winning author of the controversial international bestseller The Jewel of Medina, a historical novel that chronicles the lives of four sisters, all daughters of Beatrice of Provence—all of whom became queens in medieval Europe. When Beatrice of Savoy, countess of Provence, sends her four beautiful, accomplished daughters to become queens, she admonishes them: Family comes first. As a result, the daughters—Marguerite, queen of France; Eleanor, queen of England; Sanchia, queen of Germany; and Beatrice, queen of Sicily—work not only to expand their husbands’ empires and broker peace between nations, but also to bring the House of Savoy to greater power and influence than before. Their father’s death, however, tears the sisters apart, pitting them against one another for the legacy each believes rightfully hers—Provence itself.

Told from alternating points of view of all four queens, and set in the tumultuous thirteenth century, this is a tale of greed, lust, ambition, and sibling rivalry on a royal scale, exploring the meaning of true power and bringing to life four of the most celebrated women of their time—each of whom had an impact on the history of Europe.

Book description from Goodreads

Introduction to my review: Have you ever read stories you enjoyed so much that when you sat down to gather your thoughts, you didn’t know where to begin? Or it seems that anything you want to say or write doesn’t quite do it justice? I feel this way about Four Sisters, All Queens. I don’t believe there is anything I dislike about this story except that it ended!

I mentioned to Sherry yesterday that I’m having to re-write my review because I felt I was giving too much away. My review below will be nothing but praise and I hope it will encourage you to read this brilliant story.

My review: This poignant and powerful story is about four extraordinary sisters. Who-due to their mother’s ambition-became queens. What is so intriguing about them is their distinctive personalities and how they shaped and molded Europe during a fascinating time in history.

There are several complex issues happening in this story but Sherry gives us a perfectly balanced and evenly paced story that will keep you enthralled to the very end.

Sherry does a wonderful job capturing the culture of the era, so good, in fact that one can tell she did extensive research. Historical accuracies is what avid readers of Historical Fiction such as myself want to see. I highly recommend this story to all.

I gave this novel five stars.

Stephanie
Layered Page

Review for The Needle in the Blood by Sarah Bower

Book Discription:

January 1067. Charismatic bishop Odo of Bayeux commissions a wall hanging, on a scale never seen before, to celebrate the conquest of Britain by his brother, William, Duke of Normandy. What he cannot anticipate is how utterly this will change his life-even more than the invasion itself.
His life becomes entangled with the women who embroider his hanging, especially Gytha-handmaiden to the fallen Saxon queen and his sworn enemy. But against their intentions, they fall helplessly in love. Friends become enemies, enemies become lovers; nothing in life or in the hanging is what it seems.

From Goodreads

My Review:

I was captivated by this story and The Needle in the Blood is the first historical fiction novel I have read about the Bayeux Tapestry. It has left me wanting to know more of it’s history. I enjoyed the characters in Sarah’s story and felt she did a wonderful job with the character building. I also felt her secondary characters really helped support this story and I enjoyed reading about their lives. I have to admit I’m not fond of reading a story in the present tense, but I feel Sarah pulled this off and I was intrigued with Sarah’s explanation to me of why she wrote the book this way. She said the story is written this way because it’s the way she “heard” the story coming to her. That on reflection she found it interesting as a means of making long distant history seem more immediate.

I recommend reading this story and hope that each reader finds a little something to come away with and would want to explore the history of this time period a little more. I rated this story three and a half stars.

Stephanie
Layered Pages

2012 Recommendation Summer Reading List

This list is based on the books that I have read for this year so far. They are in no particular order.


Top Ten Historical Fictions:

The Queens Pawn by Christy English
I am the Chosen King by Helen Hollick 
Folville’s Law by David Pilling
Her Highness, the Traitor by Susan Higginbotham
The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau
Jocasta by Victoria Grossack
Betrayal by Michele Kallio
White Heart by Sherry Jones
The Wedding Shroud by Elisabeth Storrs
The Twelfth Child by Bette Lee Crosby

Top four Contemporary Fictions:

The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken by Mari Passananti
Sugar Crash by Elena Aitken
Finding Emma by Steena Holmes
Her Last Letter by Nancy C. Johnson