Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: A Kingdom's Cost by J.R. Tomlin

A Kingdom's Cost
by J.R. Tomlin
Historical Fiction
received from the author for review via Library Thing member giveaways

This novel is the first book of the Douglas Trilogy. It follows James Douglas, son of Sir William Douglas, Lord of Douglas. Sir William was a supporter of William Wallace, and he sent James to Paris when Edward Longshanks was holding first born sons as hostages. The novel starts with James learning that his father had died while imprisoned in the Tower of London, and James heads back to Scotland and ends up in the service of Bishop Lamberton. The Bishop convinces Douglas to try to pledge allegiance to Edward in hopes of reclaiming the Douglas lands, but Edward rejects his pledge on account of his father.

After the execution of William Wallace the following year, James decided to pledge his allegiance to Robert de Bruce. Bruce was crowned, first by Bishop Lamberton, and again on the following day by Isabella MacDuff, claiming the rights of the Earl of Fife to crown the Scottish King. James Douglas becomes infatuated with Isabella, wife of John Comyn, during their first meeting, and during his subsequent battles and evasions of the English, his thoughts remain with her. Bruce and his supporters face many defeats and setbacks, from defeat at Methven, to the betrayal of his wife, sisters, daughter, and Isabella MacDuff, who were being escorted to safety.

After spending the winter in northern Scotland, James returns to his lands to raise men in support of Bruce. Once there, he meets with Thomas Dickson, a former vassal of his father, and they rally together men to first conduct a surprise Clifford's men (Clifford being awarded the Douglas land when William was imprisoned). The incident became known as the Douglas Larder, because the captured English were executed and placed in the cellar with remaining stores and the castle set on fire. The novel ends up with the Battle of Loudoun Hill, and its aftermath.

Earlier in the year I had review Tomlin's Freedom's Sword, which was set a few years earlier than the events in this book. My biggest comment on that was that it was so battle focused, and that it would have been nice to have more of Moray's personal life explored to balance out the military life. I do not have the same feelings on A Kingdom's Cost. Between James's relationship with Isabella, and later with Alycie Dickson, there is a nice balance between the military and personal aspects of James's life. This had the same quick pace as the other novel. This also has the good battle descriptions, which are descriptive enough to be able to picture the battles, but not in so great a detail that might turn off some readers. I really enjoyed this novel and will be looking forward to the second installment.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top Ten Fall TBR list

Top Ten is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is the top ten books on our TBR pile for the Fall.

In no particular order....
1. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini - The last book in the Inheritance cycle
2. Seizure by Kathy Reichs - Second book in the Virals series, her YA series with her son. Has to good stuff from her Temperance Brennan series, but a YA setting, with a smidge of science fiction added.
3. Crossed by Ally Condie - I loved Matched, and since I've seen this pop up on the Goodreads Early Review giveaways, I just can't wait.
4. Which ever book is picked for the Historical Fiction Group's October read - The theme is witches, and I have 3 of the books already, and the fourth is on my TBR list.
5. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan - I got this last year when it was released, and haven't gotten to it yet.
6. The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan - Need to read The Lost Hero because The Son of Neptune is out this year.
7. A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon - The next book for me in the Outlander series. Its been a year about since I read The Fiery Cross, and I've been wanting time to get back to Claire and Jaime
8. A Clash of Kings by G.R.R. Martin - I've been dying to find out whats up next for my favorite Starks
9. The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England by Carol F. Karlsen - I purchased this on my vacation to Boston earlier this year, and have been looking for time to read it. Might read it with the group read in October.
10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - One of my first Nook purchases, and I've not gotten to it. I'm curious to whether it lives up to the hype.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Twenty Questions

Found this on Leeswammes' Blog the other night, and thought it sounded interesting.

1. Which book has been on your shelf the longest?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is currently being hosted by Life in the Thumb this August.

I should call this 'Sarah went to Borders....again'. Really, I only went to look at the history books, but the ones I'd seen before were gone, and am pondering rejoining History Book Club, so the ones I might get for that, I waited on. But actually this will be for a couple Borders visits (willpower, I have little).

Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is run by Crazy for Books.

This week's question is: What is the longest book you've ever read (not county religious/spiritual text, ie. Bible, Koran, etc.)?

To the best of my memory, the longest book I've ever read is The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, at 1443 pages.

The longest book I've read in the quickest time is Roll, Jordon Roll: The World the Slaves Made by Eugene Genovese, which is 864 pages, and I had to read and review it within a week for a class project (among other class assignments and work)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Week in Review

"I can resist anything except temptation."
Oscar Wilde

Instead of lumping together a few memes, thought I'd just include the same information in a non-meme type format.

This last week found me inhaling Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati, which I had gotten from the library's Overdrive system. I loved this. Someone had compared this to Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, which I think is a fair comparison. Except Into the Wilderness is set in the early 1790s Upstate New York. And as it seems with library books, not a day after I finished it, my hold on Witches of East End by Melissa De La Cruz came in, so I've been reading that this weekend. This will be used in the Bibliophile Summer Reading Challenge, so will have a blurby sort of review to do. If there's interest, I can collect those once I've finished and post the ones that haven't been covered already.

I've also read the week's chapters in Sharpe's Tiger by Bernard Cornwell for the read along, and working on Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Between the library books and Holy Early 1990s Mass Market Paperback with Tiny Font, Batman! issues, GWTW is taking a bit longer.

I also found myself in Borders, again. With restraint, I came out with The Ultimate French Verb Review and Practice and The Ultimate French Review and Practice. I took french in junior high and high school, so had no reference books but my uncle's now 25+ year old dictionary. I also found A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World by Tony Horwitz and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley from the clearance rack.

My city's library system also had their literature sale last week, so on the last day I checked it out. They don't do the really big sales they used to, probably because they always have a sale area now. So the sale was on a small section of the normal section. Managed to find Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman, Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood, A Widow for One Year by John Irving, a nicer copy of The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (had gotten a paperback at another library sale a while ago), Juliet by Anne Fortier, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, and Dawn on a Distant Shore by Sara Donati.

The Donati book happens to be book 2 in the Wilderness Saga, which I was going to buy at some point, if I could decide what format to get. It was just about all out of print, so I was leaning toward trade paperback, but the publisher has only done the first and last books in this size. So this has started me on the scavenger hunt of libraries and ebay for good condition hard covers of the missing books. I just need to remember that I don't need to get them all right now.

Also got via Paperbackswap The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry based on the recommendation of Wallace of Unputdownables. And Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman, won from Amy of Passages to the Past. Thanks Amy!

Plans for this week: Gone With the Wind, Witches of East End, Sharpe's Tiger, and A Kingdom's Cost by J.R. Tomlin

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Do you use twitter and like A Song of Ice and Fire?...

Did you know there are character twitter accounts? They are quite funny, so if you need something to tide you over before the dvds or next season of Game of Thrones starts, or the books, check them out. I started a list ( A Song of Ice and Fire Characters) on my regular account (sawcatis my book related account). Its not complete, but I'll add more once they do the next follow friday posts.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What I'm Reading and Mailbox Monday

What I'm Reading is hosted by Bookjourney and Mailbox Monday is being hosted in August by Life in the Thumb

This Week...

I finished:
Reign of the Nightmare Prince by Mike Phillips

I'm Reading:
Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes

I'll read next:
Sharpe's Tiger by Bernard Cornwell
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Walking with Henry by Gayle Ross
A Kingdom's Cost by J.R. Tomlin

In my mailbox:

From Paperbackswap
Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd
Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan

And from my weekly raid of Borders
The Reservoir by John Milliken Thompson
Saving Savannah by Jacqueline Jones
The Borgias by Jean Plaidy
Corrag by Susan Fletcher
She Wolves by Helen Castor (which I looked for last week but didn't see)

And for review:
No Shirt, No Shoes, No Spells by Rose Pressey
Rock n' Roll is Undead by Rose Pressey