Laura J. (LauraJ) - , - Reviews

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An American Tragedy
An American Tragedy
Author: Theodore Dreiser
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 35
Review Date: 12/28/2008
Helpful Score: 2


An American Tragedy is one of my favorite novels of all time. A true masterpiece. It is loosely based on a true story, the case of Chester Gillette. The characters are rich and interesting and not cookie-cutter or two-dimensional. A fascinating read. Highly recommended!


Arena
Arena
Author: Karen Hancock
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 45
Review Date: 12/28/2008


This is Karen Hancock's debut novel and it is a fantastic first work. The story is a Christian allegory, which may not be obvious to those less familiar with the Bible. The love of God is an ultimate message of the story, and, in my opinion, a powerful one. The romantic elements made the story more interesting to me, and made the book science fiction for women. I highly recommend this book and Hancock's Eidon series as well.


Bundle Of Joy
Bundle Of Joy
Author: Robin Lee Hatcher
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 32
Review Date: 12/31/2008


This is a "refreshed" version of the author's 1999 book, Daddy Claus, then published as a Silhouette Special Edition. I haven't read the original, but I assume most of the refreshing involved adding Christian elements to make the book appropriate as an Inspirational Romance.

The story is completely predictable, but it is still enjoyable to see how the characters arrive at the predictable conclusion. Alicia and Joe's romance is sweet and Grandpa Roger is a fun character as well.

I recommend this, along with Hatcher's other inspirational romances.


Call Me Mrs. Miracle (Mrs. Miracle, Bk 2)
Call Me Mrs. Miracle (Mrs. Miracle, Bk 2)
Author: Debbie Macomber
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 96
Review Date: 8/18/2011
Helpful Score: 1


I very much enjoyed this sweet, heartwarming Christmas romance by Debbie Macomber. It was a quick read and it really lifted my spirits.


The Canterbury Papers (Alais, Bk 1)
The Canterbury Papers (Alais, Bk 1)
Author: Judith Koll Healey
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 53
Review Date: 4/16/2007
Helpful Score: 4


Absorbing novel featuring historical characters from the era of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Intrigue, romance, history. This novel has it all.


A Christmas Promise: Snowbound Reunion / Christmas Gift: A Family (Harlequin Showcase, No 40)
Review Date: 10/20/2012


I give the first novella, Snowbound Reunion by Barbara McMahon, 3 stars. The story is a little slow and the conflict is too easily resolved, and not in a very satisfactory way, in my opinion.

I give the second novella, Christmas Gift: A Family by Barbara Hannay, 4 stars. The story is engaging and the characters are interesting. The ending is predictable, but the journey to that ending is enjoyable.


The De Lacy Inheritance
The De Lacy Inheritance
Author: Elizabeth Ashworth
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 10/20/2011
Helpful Score: 1


This was an interesting novel about a family in medieval England. The historical aspects are interesting to read about as you get a good sense of daily life in the 12th century. The main characters are generally likeable and someone a 21st century reader can relate to. The only negative for me was that one storyline seemed to be wrapped up fairly early in the novel. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this book.


The Dean's Watch
The Dean's Watch
Author: Elizabeth Goudge
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 10/12/2006
Helpful Score: 2


Slow to get into, but well worth the effort. An engaging novel with an interesting cast of characters.


Dreaming in Black and White (Phoebe Grant, Bk 1)
Dreaming in Black and White (Phoebe Grant, Bk 1)
Author: Laura Jensen Walker
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 73
Review Date: 2/27/2007


A fun example of Christian "chick-lit." Excellent for movie fans.


Emily Ever After
Emily Ever After
Author: Anne Dayton, May Vanderbilt
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 83
Review Date: 10/12/2006


A wholesome "chick lit" novel. A very contemporary heroine. Overall, a good, light read that still has a message about faith.


A Flaw in the Blood
A Flaw in the Blood
Author: Stephanie Barron
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 21
Review Date: 11/23/2009
Helpful Score: 1


This was an interesting and suspenseful historical novel. Unfortunately, some of the twists near the end of the novel depended too heavily on coincidence, and that took away somewhat from everything that had happened before. However, it was only the last 30 pages or so that were disappointing. The rest of the novel is highly readable and enjoyable.


The Great Mortality : An Intimate History of the Black Death, The Most Devastating Plague of All Time (P.S.)
Review Date: 8/5/2011


A fascinating history of the devastating 14th century plague outbreak. The author brings the period to life with details of daily life and personal accounts. At times, the descriptions can be quite graphic, so it is not recommended as mealtime reading.


Here Be Dragons (Welsh Princes, Bk 1)
Here Be Dragons (Welsh Princes, Bk 1)
Author: Sharon Kay Penman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 98
Review Date: 9/6/2010
Helpful Score: 2


Don't let the length of this novel deter you; despite its 700+ pages, it is quite readable. Sharon Kay Penman is an excellent historical novelist. She does a great job of evoking 13th century England and Wales. The story of Joanna and Llewelyn, based in history, is fascinating and holds the reader's attention. I look forward to reading mroe of Penman's work.


The Hostage Queen
The Hostage Queen
Author: Freda Lightfoot
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 5/27/2011


This historical novel takes place in France in the 1560s and 1570s and features Marguerite de Valois and her marriage to Henri de Navarre. The story is an interesting one. Unfortunately, the writing does not do it justice. The writing style is often awkward and unnecessarily wordy. The beginning of the novel was somewhat confusing, with too many people being introduced at once. One source of confusion is that three of the main male characters are all named Henri/Henry. The author finds a way to deal with this that keeps the characters distinct. There will be a sequel published later this year, although I am not yet sure if I will read it. Overall, this was a ho-hum read for me.


In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made
In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made
Author: Norman Cantor
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 66
Review Date: 11/9/2011
Helpful Score: 3


This is not a well-written, historically accurate, or interesting book about the plague. In fact, very little mention is made of the plague amid the author's ramblings. He goes on at length about the perception of the royalty then and throughout history until the 20th century. He has similar digressions on serfdom, property ownership, the persecution of Jews, and other seemingly random topics. The book is rife with historical inaccuracies and off-hand comments that reveal the author's biases. A much better book about the plague is John Kelly's The Great Mortality.


The Lady in Red: An Eighteenth-Century Tale of Sex, Scandal, and Divorce
Review Date: 4/18/2011


This is a fascinating account of a true divorce case in eighteenth-century England. The first half of the book is very engaging, but the second half lags a bit. I found myself skimming through some of the chapters that focused on their lives after the scandal, especially his. However, this is still a great read for anyone interested in 18th century history.


The Mistletoe Wager (Harlequin Historical, No 925)
The Mistletoe Wager (Harlequin Historical, No 925)
Author: Christine Merrill
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 14
Review Date: 12/28/2008


The characters in this regency romance have a lot of important discussions during this story. The problem is that they talk all of the time and have little time for action or even real romance. The resolution was a bit unsatisfying for me; with all of that talking, I thought there might be more of a meeting of the minds. The Christmas setting is the main thing to recommend this book. There are lots of details about the celebration of Christmas during this period.


Mistletoe Wishes: The Billionaire's Christmas Gift / One Christmas Night in Venice / Snowbound with the Millionaire
Review Date: 12/8/2011


The three novellas in this collection vary in quality. The first novella, The Billionaire's Christmas Gift, was my least favorite by far. In fact, I hated this story. The love story was unbelievable and the main characters were unpleasant. The second novella, One Christmas Night in Venice, was much better, although I had a hard time overcoming the tragic premise. The third novella, Snowbound with the Millionaire, was my favorite by far and was the only one of the three I really enjoyed reading.


The Monster in the Box (Chief Inspector Wexford, Bk 22)
The Monster in the Box (Chief Inspector Wexford, Bk 22)
Author: Ruth Rendell
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 15
Review Date: 3/2/2011
Helpful Score: 1


An unusual mystery novel, in that not much really happens. However, the primary plot is still intriguing and held my interest. Unfortunately, the secondary plot about a Pakistani family and their teenage daughter was excruciating. I found myself speed-reading through those sections as the book progressed. Not one of Rendell's best works, but still worth reading if you are a fan of her Inspector Wexford series.


One Candlelit Christmas: Christmas Wedding Wish / The Rake's Secret Son / Blame It On The Mistletoe (Harlequin Historical, No 919)
Review Date: 12/29/2008


The three novellas in this regency Christmas collection are a bit uneven.

Christmas Wedding Wish by Julia Justiss is perhaps the best in the collection, with an interesting hero and heroine. However, the conflict feels a bit forced.

The Rake's Secret Son is perhaps the weakest of the three novellas. This could be the plot of a complete novel, but as a novella, it loses a lot of needed character development.

Blame it on the Mistletoe is average. Again, the conflict feels a bit forced, but the characters are genuine and sweet.


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