Travail and Triumph by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Travail and Triumph by Michael R. Phillips and Judith Pella

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

In 1880, Russia yet rumbles with unrest and rebellious underground plans to overthrow the tsar. Amid the turmoil, the saga of two families—the aristocratic house of Fedorcenko and the peasant Burenin family—continues in Travail and Triumph by authors Michael Phillips and Judith Pella.

Travail and triumph are right, although considering the novel’s length and the time it commits to each, it’s super-heavy on the travail (close to a Shakespearean dramatic tragedy level in key respects) and ultra-light on the triumph.

There’s still much along the lines of melodramatic caricature in the characterizations, from overdone sweetness in one to overdone evilness in others, along with an overuse of exclamation points at times, which can make the dialogue and narration hard to take seriously. Due to the redundancy and the tale often idling in different characters’ bleak ruminations and circumstances, I feel this same story could have been told in significantly fewer pages without losing anything fresh or crucial.

Yet, while the storytelling style isn’t my favorite, I’ve gotten used to it enough to roll with it for the sake of the aspects that have me all in: the locations, the time period, and the historical context and events. Moreover, despite the characterizations, the personal events involving the cast have kept me intrigued. Perhaps with continued development, a character or two might grow on me yet.

After this is where Phillips bows out and Pella takes over the series solo for the last four novels. I’m interested in seeing what she does with it.

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Here’s my review of Book One in The Russians series, The Crown and the Crucible.

 

The Grandmother with Enormous Eyes by A.G. Marshall

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Grandmother with Enormous Eyes by A.G. Marshall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“Grandmother, what big eyes you have!”

When young Red makes that statement to her grandmother Matilda, we all know where the story is going—or do we?—in The Grandmother with Enormous Eyes by author A.G. Marshall.

Having already enjoyed a different story in this series, I didn’t feel the need to check the blurb for this one. The title let me know which fairy tale would be retold here.

This short read took me into an area of fantasy I’ve never entered on purpose before, and I likely never will, but the twist turns out to be a great one for this reimagined story.

Granted, the way Red keeps addressing her grandmother as “Granny” over and over again is pretty tiresome, but the story is well-written overall, and wow, it’s a rather poignant one.

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Once Upon a Short Story Series

 

War of Hearts by Annette Lyon

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

War of Hearts by Annette Lyon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

In December 1939, Anna’s career in journalism gives her the opportunity to cover the Winter War in Finland. The last thing she expects is to find that Pete, the man who recently broke her heart, is also in Finland, assigned to be her photographer. And the non-combat area they’ve been sent to soon becomes a dangerous battle zone in War of Hearts by author Annette Lyon.

Yes, it was the cover of this novella that drew me to it, what with its soft but striking, creamy glow of frosty winter light in the snowy woods, and the appearance of the woman giving it its historical feel. The typography and gently faded flourishes around the title are lovely, too.

The war-related parts are what I liked best about the read. In contrast to its soft-looking cover, the story contains descriptions of some of the ugly, violent, tragic aspects of war. The romance wasn’t my favorite, feeling a little clichéd, redundant, and not the most natural. Also, while the romantic side of the story gets its conclusion, the aspects of the war and the hero’s and heroine’s careers rather seem to be left hanging in the end.

Still, the brief snapshots of history in this story were worthwhile for this historical fiction enthusiast.

 

Kiss and ’Telle? Release Day!

If only this type of thing were as easy as it looks in chick flicks.


“This book has so many uplifting and funny moments!” ~The Adventures of a Traveler’s Wife
“…a fun and enchanting read focused on the theme of longtime friendship and love.” ~RAIN’N’BOOKS

It’s officially Release Day!
My new contemporary romance, Kiss and ’Telle?, is now available.

Pick up an ebook copy for a limited-time launch price!

Amazon Kindle
Barnes & Noble Nook
Apple Books
Kobo
Smashwords

Also available in paperback.

This book features characters who first appeared in Hope Unashamed, the sequel to Love Unfeigned. Enjoy a bonus excerpt at the end of the story.

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