I love to curl up with a nice, steaming cup of tea and a free book to review. In fact I subscribe to three book review sites: Book Crash, Book Rooster and The Bookplex just so I can indulge in my favorite leisure activity. What’s even better is when an author contacts me for a review. If you’re an author looking for someone to review your book or short story, check out my Request a Review page.
Because I like to share the great reads I’ve found (and warn readers of the not-so-great finds), I developed a system:
- One cup — worse than a cup of luke warm black pekoe
- Two cups — it may be hot, but you’ll need plenty of sweetener just to tolerate it
- Three cups — it’s not my favorite, but it beats going without
- Four cups — nice and hot and only needs a smidge of sweetener to be perfect
- Five cups — loose leaf vanilla Earl Grey, yummy
Sometimes a book or story doesn’t warrant a five cup rating, but it’s so good it can’t be missed. For those I include the “Must Read” starburst in front of the cup rating. You’ll find my cup rating above the picture of the cover. Enjoy!
Destinies by Karleene Morrow
Historical epic of royalty and rural family.
Catherine II seizes the imperial crown of Russia and a thousand miles away a Rhineland boy’s life changes forever.
Uprooted from his home near the Rhine River and taken to a hostile land on the Russian steppes, Christian comes up against adversity and setbacks as he attempts to make a new life for himself and his family. His efforts at enlisting a blacksmith and Gypsies to help a Russian girl sold into servitude put all their lives in deadly peril.
Meanwhile, Catherine, in her new role as empress, is surrounded by court intrigue and secret plots to overthrow her; rumors of her lover’s infidelity; an army of wild Cossacks and escaped serfs thundering down on Saratov intent on burning the city, sacking Moscow and locking the empress in a convent.
Now Catherine must find a solution to the challenges she faces at court – as Christian must find his own solutions in the colonies.
Normally I wouldn’t pick up a historical fiction simply because it is outside of my normal genre reading. This is one time I’m very glad I took the risk. If my history classes had been anything like this book I probably would have aced every test. We follow two storylines that often intersect and both are riveting.
Catherine’s story reminded me of a Doctor Who episode where the Doctor and his companions are able to look into the life of Madame D’Pompadour during certain points in her life. We get a close up look at how Catherine may have actually lived, not just the dry facts, but also how she may have felt and reacted to specific events. The author brings this historical figure to life and allows us special access to behind the scenes action.
In the other storyline we watch Christian grow into a man during one of his people’s most exciting and trying times. We feel the heart break as he loses loved ones and thrill to the moments of danger he overcomes. As the story progresses we hope ever more fervently for a happy ending for this endearing character.
As with most books with prologues, this one I believe could have been eliminated without harming the story. It’s interesting, but unnecessary.
This book is actually three books in one. Book one is well written and well edited. However, while books two and three are also well written, they could have benefitted from a little more editing. I found several typographical and formatting errors that were annoying. My suggestion for perfectionists is to note that the errors exist and concentrate on enjoying the story, which is strong through the entire book.
It’s also worth noting that in a few scenes there is excessive foul language and brutality. In each case I would consider it acceptable given the scene and the characters.
Destinies by Karleene Morrow is a fabulous historical fiction worth adding to one’s library and definitely worth taking a chance on.