(Review) To Crown a King by Raedene Jeanette Melin

To Crown a King
Publisher and Publication Date: Skjaldmaer Publishing. December 10, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 298.
Source: NetGalley ebook copy. I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Historical fiction readers who enjoy reading about Scottish history.
Rating: Very good.

Kindle copy is $3.99


Raedene Jeannette Melin website
True facts about the main character, Christina.
Lady Christian Bruce or Christina was born in 1273 (other sites place her birth in 1278.) She was the daughter of the 6th Lord of Annandale, Robert Bruce. Her mother was the Countess of Carrick. The Bruce family were the Lord’s of Annandale. The castle and lands were located just north of the English border. She was the older sister of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland. She was the 2nd of ten children. She was actively involved in the Wars of Independence. She was married three times and had four children. Christian died in 1357.
For more information: Undiscovered Scotland.
Wars of Independence, from Britannica.

Scotland, 1295.
Edward I of England wants control of Scotland. A man named John Balliol wears the Scottish crown but not for long. Christina Bruce is a daughter of Robert Bruce. When the story begins he is in Norway with her older sister Isabel. Christina lives with her grandfather, also Robert Bruce. She’s betrothed to a man she doesn’t love. She avoids this arrangement. She is a woman of determination and rebellion. In an era when females were under the control of their fathers, Christina is not a woman who will obey.
Throughout the story, Christina seems to be in the right place at the right time to become involved with a strong historical figure involved in the Wars of Independence. For example, William Wallace. Without being said, she has a reputation as a wise person who can be counted on for planning and carrying out missions.

My Thoughts:
To Crown a King is my kind of historical fiction. I love Scottish history. I love this time period. And, to top it off, I read about an ancestral family member in the story. I’m not going to name him, because he made a history defining poor choice. I read somewhere else he later apologized.
Christina is a story hero I love. She has strength, maturity, boldness, wisdom, and insight. She’s an imperfect person and this makes her both enduring, likable, and believable. I do have a slight problem with her being in the right place at the right time so often. This seems staged. However, later in the story this “right place” ends.
I like the story, because it is a story that’s not been told until this book.
I like this story, because William Wallace is a character I enjoy reading. He is a likable fellow. He is shown not as a machismo type, but he’s shown as a thinking, observing, guileful warrior.
To Crown a King shows the Scottish noble families and who they aligned with; of course, sometimes they changed to another leader. This story told me people betray those thought to be trusted.
The story is in an era when the brutality of war and aggression is common. It’s also a time when vengeance and revenge is expected.
The Scottish people did not want their land to be controlled by the English king. They were ready to fight and lay down their lives for freedom. This is the number one theme.
The culture of women is shown. However, Christina is a remarkable character for this era.


Robert Burns Night, January 25


Robert Burns 25 January 1759 to 21 July 1796

Burns Night is a celebration of the life and poet, Robert Burns, celebrated traditionally on the day that was his birthday.

Further links:
Visit Scotland
Robert Burns.org

A Red, Red Rose 
“O my luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly played in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
O I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only luve,
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile.”



(Review) The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, Volume III by Collins Hemingway

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Volume III Cover
Publisher and Publication Date: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. November 4, 2017.
Genre: Fiction. Jane Austen spin-off.
Pages: 338.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: I do not recommend.
Rating: I do not recommend.

Amazon link
The Kindle Unlimited is free.

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen is Volume III.
Volume I
Volume II

The Stunning Finale to Jane Austen’s Saga!
In the moving conclusion to The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, Jane and her husband struggle with the serious illness of their son, confront a bitter relationship with the aristocratic family who were once their friends, and face the horrific prospect of war when the British Army falters on the continent. The momentous events of the Napoleonic wars and the agonizing trials of their personal lives take Jane and Ashton to a decision that will decide their fate—and her future—once and for all.

My Thoughts:
I have many thoughts on this book.
•On pages 5 and 6 there is a list of quotes (18) from readers about the book. I find it odd there are no names after any of them. Why? This doesn’t look good. To include quotes helps to positively represent a book, the quotes need to have the name of who said the words, otherwise, the quotes are invalid.
•The language in the book is not authentic to the time period. The conversations are common, and the words used are a reflection of the modern era.
•Several strong themes and conflicts make for a tiresome story. Some examples: conflict between the parents over how to handle a child’s disability; a mother-in-law who is abusive to the child because of the disability; marriage, and the conflict over lack of sex, weight gain after pregnancy, and whether the weak child should have a Smallpox vaccine; the family business and conflicts in the running of it; war and military life through the eyes of Jane.
•What I disliked was the three times Ashton (Jane’s husband) berated her for what he feels she’s done wrong. In each of these instances, it looks as if Jane Austen is being pushed off her high horse and humbled. Why was so many times necessary? To me this also represents conflicts in the story as well: self-worth, loyalty, and obsession (on the part of her husband.)
•What I disliked was the scene where a horse is shot in the head in the presence of Jane and her husband, Ashton. Blood sprays Jane.
•I feel the disabilities of the characters in the story could have been built on throughout the book. It’s a great theme. I’ve not read books from the Regency period that show how disabilities were handled in a family. This story showed a glimpse.
•Early in the story Jane writes a letter to Mr. Wilberforce. That’s it. No other information is given (a little over one page.) No further story on this. Mr. Wilberforce was a strong historical figure. His character could have made the story rich, because of his tireless work to abolish the slave trade.
•Hemingway includes lengthy letters as a way to tell the story. A snippet from letters is fine. Pages (plural) is not okay. But, it is a tool to tell a story.
•Jane’s perspective and response to viewing battles and wounded. It seems she cared little and so did I.
•I didn’t like the ending. However, the ending paved the way for the books she wrote.

Is this story believable? No.
Is this story one a reader can be swept up in? No.
Is the story true to the character of Jane Austen? No.

(Review) Hope’s Highest Mountain by Misty M. Beller

Publisher and Publication Date: Bethany House. 2019
Genre: Christian fiction.
Pages: 308
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Readers who enjoy Christian fiction, western stories, romance, and pioneer living.
Rating: Very good.

Amazon link 

For more information about the book at Bethany House.
Ingrid Chastain travels with her father and two others to deliver important medicine to a mining town in Montana Territory. An accident changes the plan.
Micah Bradley lives in the wilderness of Montana Territory. He grieves the family he lost. He’d practiced as a physician before living in Montana.
Ingrid and Micah will meet at the right time but during a terrible situation.

My Thoughts:
I read Hope’s Highest Mountain during a period of reading other intense books. This book was a restful break, and this is why I loved it so much.
•Ingrid and Micah are solid characters. They are not silly or immature. They are believable. They are people who I can admire.
•I enjoyed reading about medical practices during this period. I especially learned about the Smallpox vaccine.
•The story has a good rhythm-a steady pace.
•It’s a simple story without several heavy themes running in it.
•The love story is not complex, but is a reflection of an enduring love.

(Review) Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War by Sebastian Faulks

Publisher and Publication Date: Vintage. Published March 21st 2012. First published September 27, 1993.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 496.
Source: Library ebook copy.
Audience: Romance readers who can also digest a war story, or readers of military stories who can digest a love story.  Historical fiction readers of World War I.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link for the book

Birdsong is book two in the French Trilogy by Sebastian Faulks. The first book is The Girl at the Lion d’Or. The third book is Charlotte Gray. I’ve read Charlotte Gray. This last book I rated good or 3 stars. From what I remember, Charlotte Gray was a bland character.

The year is 1910. Stephen Wraysford is a young Englishman who stays with the Azaire family in France. He is observing and learning about Mr. Azaire’s factory business. Mrs. Isabelle Azaire is the second wife and step-mother to the two children. She is a proper, respected, and lovely woman. The constraints of her economic class and the era in which she lives creates an insecurity about being perfect. However, perfect is a façade, an illusion. From the first moment, there is an instant attraction between Stephen and Isabelle. There are several scenes of lingering eye contact and touching, which builds to the moment they seek a safe place to act on their attraction. Their relationship is powerful and they are swept up in the energy it brings. It peaks when reality sets. The story then shifts to the early years of World War I. Stephen is in the British army. He is an officer in command of other soldiers. A secondary story is the late 1970s, England. A middle age woman is in search of information about her grandfather. The book is primarily about Stephen Wraysford. The lens is on him.

My Thoughts:
I have so many thoughts about this story.
•I’d heard about this book years ago when the movie was on PBS. I watched pieces of this movie at that time. I’m hoping to watch it in full.
•Recently, I read an account (from someone else) this book gave a solid look at World War I. I agree. It is descriptive about so many aspects of the war I’d not considered. For example, the lice and flea problem. Lice and fleas permeated the soldier during World War I. Even when they were on leave and cleaned up, the eggs were in the clothing. They’d hatch eventually and the soldier began itching. The itching was done without realizing, because they’d become accustomed to the problem. Another aspect is the shaking or tremor in the hands of soldiers. Their hands shook because of PTSD. Other aspects of the war in this book: the sound that a shell makes before it hits the target; what happened to a human body depending on where the shell hit; the miners who tunneled; an explanation of what gangrene does to a human body; what a poisonous gas attack does to a human body; medical treatments from doctors and nurses; the feeling of detachment for a soldier; retrieving dead bodies for burial; and the infestation of rats.
Birdsong is a book about relationships. Relationships between husbands and wives, parent and children, lovers, friends, and soldiers who are in war. As I’ve become older, I have learned there are different types of love and different levels of love. And, people who romantically love one another, and it is a deep love, don’t always end up in a permanent relationship. Sometimes things don’t work out for people who love one another. This book explores a lingering love. A love that doesn’t go away, but only finds a safe place to settle in a person’s heart.
•Faulks is a descriptive writer. I found myself lingering and rereading certain parts, especially with people. I felt that if I reread those portions about the person I might understand them better. I might see them in my mind clearer.
•The themes in the story pull at the heart. For example, war and the impact it makes on generations.
Birdsong is a haunting story. It’s a memorable story.
Birdsong is a mature story. I’m not saying that if you are 18 you are not old enough to read the story. Birdsong requires a maturity about life that is made profound by older eyes.
•I understand the reason for including the modern story. However, I didn’t care for it. It felt pasted. It felt insignificant in comparison to Stephen’s story.