fencingcellist

Reviews
More
Fields of Grace (Heart of the Prairie Book #4)

by

This Christian romance was a delight to read with memorable characters and an interesting setting in the early days of American history as our country was being settled. My only minor complaints were a sometimes stilted writing style, which I assumed Kim Vogel Sawyer used to mimic the ebb and flow (or lack thereof) in low German. It sometimes the sentences awkward made -- if you take my meaning. I think a bit more editing on this front might have avoided any interruption of the reader's journey through the book. As it was, I found myself stopping periodically and wondering why, other than to be purposefully awkward, the sentences were structured the way they were. But this was admittedly not terribly often and overall did not take away from my reading of the book. My other wish was that the book were longer! I wanted to learn more about the characters. And this sort of complaint is high praise, and so, thank you Ms. Vogel Sawyer, for the grand job you did in your characterizations. I did not always like the way your protagonist behaved, but she was truly "her own person." Ultimately, this made her more interesting. I think this book begs for more in a series. I shall watch for more installments.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

by

An amazingly well-written book . . . but why was this our first-year reading? What messages are we trying to send to our first-year students? Oscar's triumph at finally losing his virginity I suppose is not the main message, nor the fact that the final narrator is a philanderer, but possibly more that the book is filled with tragedy and curses, and racial/social class/political tensions or the search for self-identity in a country where there are very few actual "natives" . . . I am flummoxed at this reading selection. It is incredible writing, if at times, annoyingly pushy in terms of ramming points home with the reader. 5 or more stars for the writing, an unknown number of stars for the messages presented . . .
Gladiatrix

by

She found her freedom by the SwordRussell Whitfield's Gladiatrix was an entertaining read with gripping, grisly arena battles between independent, athletic women. Using as his jumping off point an ancient stele from Halicarnassus depicting two gladiatrices with an inscription that indicates honorable retirement from the arena, Whitfield presents an enjoyable tale of love and hatred, slavery and freedom, culture clash among women of different backgrounds, and power struggles between men and women. Don't expect a scholarly tome – be prepared to be entertained. The fight scenes are gripping page-turners. There was a bit too much gore for my taste, but some will find this a plus. Like some of the other reviewers, I found the sex scenes to be much weaker writing than the fight scenes, to the point that some were almost painful to read. However, this did not diminish the entertainment value of the book for me.With regard to Whitfield's characters, our Spartan heroine Lysandra is extraordinarily sure of herself to the point of extreme arrogance. But in a fighter, I can't help but believe that that was part of her success – her unfailing confidence in herself and her training. And, would we call this arrogance or just confidence and assertiveness in a male character? It was a pleasure to read a tale from the point of view of a woman who did not doubt herself. Lysandra is not a weak, waffling, insecure woman! Some have criticized the flat nature of the secondary characters, but if we had too much more information on them, the book would change its focus and grow too lengthy to remain a light, swashbuckling romp. However, I would have loved it if Catuvolcos had had a larger and perhaps different role to play in the novel. He was my favorite character, and I wonder how the novel would read from his point of view rather than from that of Lysandra.If you want something deep and serious or something with well-written sexual encounters – or only heterosexual sex scenes, avoid this book. But if you're after page-turning matches between strong women in the arena, I recommend it.
Truly, Madly: A Lucy Valentine Novel

by

Heather Webber's Truly, Madly is an exciting romp of a book with elements to please both romance and murder mystery readers. Webber's main character Lucy Valentine begins the novel feeling like a failed matchmaker; her family's hereditary psychic ability to make perfect matches in love has gone astray, leaving her instead with the ability to find lost objects for people. At the point in her life where this novel starts, Lucy has successfully dodged working at the family business, refused her trust fund, and set out on her own to find her true calling. But when her father is hit by no only a heart attack but also a scandal at work, he cajoles her into running the family matchmaking business while he escapes to recover both his health and his reputation.Lucy is an independent, lovable, and strong woman who, in this novel solves mysteries, makes a few matches, and finds love as well as her true calling. Webber has done a good job in creating suspense, believable characters, and an entertaining story. How could she go wrong with characters who have pets including a dog named Thoreau, a three-legged Maine coon cat called Grendel, and a one-eyed hamster named Odysseus? Her writing is fast-paced, humorous, and intelligent. I had a hard time putting this one down, and look forward to its sequel, Deeply, Desperately. This is a great read.
Gnostic Mystery

by

I was really excited to get this book; the blurb sounded fantastic. Randy Davila is an excellent writer, but this book just didn't go anywhere and insults his readers' intelligence, hence my two-star rating for good writing, a good idea for a plot, no action, and assuming the ignorance of his readers.The book lacked action and really seemed to be a lecture on what I should believe about Biblical history. However, that's not why I wanted to read the book; I expected something more along the lines of David Gibbins, and that was a terrible mistake. This book is mostly lecture, and no offense, but I'd rather go to lectures by Bart Erhman as I did in college; Prof. Erhman did not assume I was completely ignorant where Davila did. In addition, Erhman's lectures were always highly entertaining, and I cannot say the same of Davila's. Davila treats his readers as if we haven't a clue about Biblical scholarship or much of anything. This is not my field, but I knew much more than his high flying, supposedly well educated characters. If this book were re-worked, made to be faster paced, less preachy/lecture-y -- it would be a winner. This would require more action, more character development, and more excitement. Sadly, it read like a draft rather than a polished novel.
scribd