Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer Reading #1: Oldies by Bujold, Heath, Marillier, Gellis

This summer I am indulging myself. The bulk of my reading has consisted of books that I've been wanting to get to for a long time. I caught up with some oldies but goodies. Today I am highlighting a few of the books that made an impact.

The Warrior's Apprentice and Ethan of Athos (Vorkosigan Saga) by Lois McMaster Bujold. I have so many different editions of The Warrior's Apprentice and yet they've all gone unread for years. Finally, I settled for the audio book. I'm loving this series. I keep asking myself, why did I wait so long? This is such a fantastic science fiction book. Miles is a brilliant young man who doesn't allow his disfigurement and/or disabilities to stop him from achieving what he wants and/or having fun on the way there. I love Miles, the humor, adventurous plot, political games, and fantastic secondary characters. Everything.  Overall, a fabulous creation by Bujold. A 5 star recommendation.

Ethan of Athos is a shorter story that doesn't include Miles, although it does include one of his mercenaries. It is however, a wonderful, adventurous little story with Athos, a planet inhabited exclusively by males, as the base for the story. Bujold's main character, Ethan, is a scientist attempting to resolve a scientific glitch in Athos's artificial reproductive system. To find a resolution, he must travel away from his planet to find it. In his adventures, Ethan faces bigotry as well as his own misconceptions about life away from his planet and women in particular. A 4.5 star recommendation.

I also went on a Lorraine Heath western historical romance kick and read four of her books, including the Texas Trilogy of which Texas Destiny (Book #1) was my favorite and a 5 star read. Amelia Carson, a mail-order bride, travels to Texas to marry the eldest, handsome, Leigh brother. Houston, the scarred middle brother, picks up Amelia at the train station and shares a three-week adventure-filled ride home and the two fall in love. This is a post American Civil war romance with a tortured hero, fantastic sexual tension and chemistry between the protagonists, and a brave, kind, admirable heroine. This is the type of western historical romance I love. A sigh-worthy read!

Parting Gifts is another western historical romance novel by Lorraine Heath, but this one is on the sweeter side. In this romance Maddie is rescued from a life of prostitution by Charles Lawson, a a dying widower in need of a mother for his children. It is a marriage of convenience without sexual intimacy. Charles' older brother Jesse, however, doesn't trust Maddie even as a strong mutual attraction blooms between them. This is a heartwarming, endearing romance with a few well-kept secrets, a couple of cute kids, two brothers, one woman, lovely sexual tension, and a sweet ending. It did not impact me as strongly as Texas Destiny, but still a 4.5 star recommended. I am loving Heath's western backlist! PS: The Fulfillment by Lavyrle Spencer also has the two brothers, one woman plot line. It is not necessarily the same, but I have it in my TBR and need to read it.

Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters #1) by Juliet Marillier was also a great read for me. I decided to read it because everywhere I look whenever readers write a review or leave a comment for a Marillier book the first disclaimer is: "This is not as great as the Sevenwaters trilogy, but…," and I wanted to find out what the hoopla was all about. Overall, I am loving Marillier's prose. As far as this first book of the Sevenwaters trilogy goes, I particularly enjoyed the unique way in which she based her fantasy on The Wild Swans fairy tale. I thoroughly disliked the manipulative Fair Folk in the story and the needless loss of innocence, beauty, and talent that came of it all. Having said that, Sorcha and Red as the main romantic couple are fabulous and I found myself reading the book compulsively until the very end. Highly recommended.

Roselynde (Roselynde Chronicles #1) by Roberta Gellis - I decided to reread the first two books of the Roselynde Chronicles by Roberta Gellis. I first read Roselynde back in the early 80's and in my opinion this reread stands the test of time. I still love young Alinor the Intrepid and Simon the Honorable. This book has the fantastic historical fiction details that Gellis is known for, excellent characters all around, and a plot that kept me engaged from beginning to end. I gave it 5 stars at Goodreads and recommend it for readers who love historical fiction set during the times of Richard the Lionhearted, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the Crusades with a romance between fictional characters at its center to spice things up.

Alinor (Roselynde Chronicles #2) by Roberta Gellis - I love the historical details in this book, particularly as they pertain to women's rights to inherit, widows and their children, and King John's reign. Gellis' attempt to capture the medieval mindset is particularly notable in this second installment. Alinor is again the main character, as well as the romance heroine and I still love her. Simon's loss was just as sad during this reread as it was the first time I read the book. The romance between Alinor and her second husband Ian has its moments. Ian's enduring love for Alinor is sweet and passionate. I admired both Alinor's realistic outlook once she became aware of her precarious position, and her attraction to Ian despite the love she still felt for Simon. The romance, however, seems to be plagued by the lack of real communication which leads to one too many misunderstandings. There is a heavy contrast between second husband Ian's youth and first husband Simon's maturity. Regardless, this is my second favorite book of the Roselynde Chronicles. A 4.5 star recommendation.

A note about the Roselynde Chronicles: If as a reader you do not enjoy detailed battle scenes, court intrigue, or political maneuvering with your romance, these historical fiction/romance books may not be for you.


6 comments:

  1. Lois McMaster Bujold is on my authors list to read. I've heard so much good, but never picked up her books... Need to do something about that soon ^_^;

    I'm glad you are enjoying Lorraine Heath's western so much. I'm not a fan of western, but I'm a fan of Lorraine Heath and so, did read some of the books you mentioned :P If you ever want to read her historicals, try Passions of a Wicked Earl :) I loved that one!

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    1. Oh. Definitely give Bujold a shot, Nath. I can't believe I waited so long to continue reading this fantastic series.

      And Lorraine Heath! I'm just loving her backlist. But you know, I began by reading her historicals and then purchased the westerns in her backlist.

      I read Passions of a Wicked Earl and loved it! There is a review around here for that book. I believe I loved the first two books of that trilogy but was unhappy with the last one.

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  2. Hi!
    I also have a book by Bujold... Beguilment, from another series. It's for one day...

    I've recently read Paring Gifts by Heath as well. I liked it. I've read her Texas trilogy years ago and for me, the best is the 2nd book! loved the romance!!

    I also love Juliet Marillier... you need to read the Sevenwaters series and then her other work. She is superb in her style and genre!

    Happy reading, Hilcia!

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    1. Hey Sonia!

      I don't have Beguilement by Bujold, but I loved Shards of Honour. I have almost the entire Vorkosigan Saga, the Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls, The Hallowed Hunt, and The Sharing Knife trilogy in my TBR! I think I need to spend some time with Bujold!

      Hmm... by Marillier I am reading her latest Blackthorn & Grimm series . I read Dreampool and loved it, and am waiting for the second book Tower of Thorns to release in November. From her backlist I have The Dark Mirror (Book #1 of the Bridei Chronicles) and Wolfskin in my TBR. I need to get to the 2nd Sevenwaters book.

      Parting Gifts by Heath was heartwarming and enjoyable for me. I just finished an old contemporary by her -- Hard Lovin' Man -- recommended by KristieJ. I really loved the hero's enduring love and the story was good but a bit outdated, I think. The heroine was a bit tougher to love. But overall a pretty good read.

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  3. Alas, the only ones you've listed that I've read are the Heath books. But aren't her Westerns wonderful? I do believe we shared our love of her books in NYC :-)

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    1. Oh yes! Her westerns are turning out to be beautiful reads, KristieJ. I still have a few in my TBR -- Never Love a Cowboy, Never Marry a Cowboy, Samantha and the Cowboy, Sweet Lullaby and a few others. But I think I'm either going to try Maureen McKade or Maureen Osborne next and save those for a little later.

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