Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

Quinn convincingly conjures the terrifying reign of Emperor Domitian in her solid debut that follows the travails of Thea, a slave girl and mistress to the emperor. While she is tormented by Domitian, she holds her secrets—a gladiator lover, a young son—close. When these facts are brought to Domitian's attention by Thea's jealous rival, Thea takes drastic actions to secure her family. Quinn's command of first-century Rome is matched only by her involvement with her characters; all of them, historical and invented, are compelling and realistic, and she explores their dark sides without crossing into gratuitousness. Readers will finish eager for a sequel, which is a good thing because Quinn has left the door wide open for a follow-up. This should make a splash among devotees of ancient Rome.

This is Kate Quinn's debut novel. I really enjoyed it. I found the historical part very interesting, since this is really my first HF for this time period and only 2nd taking place in Rome. I love the way the book was from Thea's point of view, then Lepdia and just narration, it all flowed together very nicely.

I thought the characters very well developed, with Vix being my favorite (he reminded me of my son). I am so looking forward to Daughter of Rome and have already preordered the 3rd book.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

It all begins with a lost manuscript, a reluctant witch, and 1,500-year-old vampire. Dr. Diana Bishop has a really good reason for refusing to do magic: she is a direct descendant of the first woman executed in the Salem Witch Trials, and her parents cautioned her be discreet about her talents before they were murdered, presumably for having "too much power." So it is purely by accident that Diana unlocks an enchanted long-lost manuscript (a book that all manner of supernatural creatures believe to hold the story of all origins and the secret of immortality) at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and finds herself in a race to prevent an interspecies war. A sparkling debut written by a historian and self-proclaimed oenophile, A Discovery of Witches is heady mix of history and magic, mythology and love (cue the aforementioned vampire!), making for a luxurious, intoxicating, one-sitting read.

I have been wanting to read this book ever since it was released. The hard part of starting A Discovery of Witches was not to get my expectations too high (sometimes high expectations aren't always a good idea). I thought it started a little slow, but it didn't take long for it to grab me and I was done in about 5 days.

How to say more without spoiling anything? I will try. I felt in some ways it is an adult version of Twilight (though 1000% times better writing and storyline - not a big Twilight fan here). There is the history that I love (hard to pinpoint a time period, that would be impossible - Matthew is really old). Romance - but not done in a mushy, overly cutie kinda way. Adventure and suspense throughout the book.

My only negative comment is that they is no release date for the sequel (yes there is a sequel)