Tag Archives: Bernard Cornwell

Book Review: Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell (2/5)

28 Apr

My mom doesn’t recommend books to me often so when she does, I take them seriously. She recommended this one to me after I read Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth which I really enjoyed. I guess this is in a similar strain as Pillars, but I felt it was really lacking and I wouldn’t consider the two comparable.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell

Summary from Goodreads:

Four thousand years ago, a stranger’s death at the Old Temple of Ratharryn-and his ominous “gift” of gold-precipitates the building of what for centuries to come will be known as one of mankind’s most singular and remarkable achievements. Bernard Cornwell’s epic novel Stonehenge catapults us into a powerful and vibrant world of ritual and sacrifice at once timeless and wholly original-a tale of patricide, betrayal, and murder; of bloody brotherly rivalry: and of the never-ending quest for power, wealth, and spiritual fulfillment.

Three brothers-deadly rivals-are uneasily united in their quest to create a temple to their gods. There is Lengar, the eldest, a ruthless warrior intent on replacing his father as chief of the tribe of Ratharryn; Camaban, his bastard brother, a sorcerer whose religious fervor inspires the plan for Stonehenge; and Saban, the youngest, through whose expertise the temple will finally be completed. Divided by blood but united-precariously-by a shared vision, the brothers begin erecting their mighty ring of granite, aligning towering stones to the movement of the heavenly bodies, and raising arches to appease and unite their gods. Caught between the zealousness of his ambitious brothers, Saban becomes the true leader of his people, a peacemaker who will live to see the temple built in the name of salvation and regeneration.

The summary makes it sound like the book focuses on building Stonehenge but, in fact, Stonehenge doesn’t appear until late in the novel. I was listening to the audiobook which totaled 17 hours and Stonehenge wasn’t even engineered until about 13 hours into that. The first 13 hours dealt with other temples, Gods, side characters, and minimal character development. I felt like most of it could have been cut. There were so many characters that I had a lot of them confused soon after they were introduced. Whereas Pillars never seemed to get too off course, I felt this story was derailed from the start and I wish it had been a little more focused.

Cornwall did a great job of creating an ancient culture with little historical record on which to base his facts. The extensive author’s note at the end described the little he did have to go off of but showed how much of what he created was from his own imagination. I think he created some great characters and Gods which were relatable today.

Saban was my favorite character because he seemed to be the only one with any sense. Lengar was a jerk, Camaban was power-hungry, and Saban’s women were zealots who blindly followed Camaban. It was easy to sympathize with him because as a reader I shared his frustrations with the other characters. Saban was obviously a very smart man and it was easy to like him.

Bernard Cornwell Image via the Daily Mail

Bernard Cornwell
Image via the Daily Mail

I liked when they were finally building Stonehenge. There was no more dragging of stone or wars over where the stone could be moved or visions from priests or anything else to get in the way of the story. I wish the construction had been the focus of the book. I thought the engineering that Saban had to follow to get the structures to stand was well described and his construction techniques were really interesting to me.

I thought the portion of Saban’s life that he spent as a slave was very unnecessary. He rose again to a position of power and I didn’t think he grew from the experience of being a slave. If the point of it was to drive a rift between him and Lengar, I didn’t think it was necessary. The two were already on rough terms. The first half of the novel was too much character building for me because none of the characters grew during the time, only revealed their personalities to the reader.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Frederick Davidson. I was not a fan of the narration. I thought he was very monotonous and I had to turn the book off sometimes while driving to stay awake. The voice he used for some characters was really grating on my ears, particularly Sanas and some of the older men.

The only message I can gather from this is a warning about blindly following anything. Many of the characters blindly followed Camaban and Orena who say they are receiving messages from the Gods though those messages frequently change and often benefit them personally. Many of those followers meet tragic ends. Other than that, I found this book merely entertaining and not teaching very much.

Writer’s Takeaway: Kill your darlings. I’m sure it’s as hard for a seasoned writer as it is for me, but a lot of this book could have been cut.

I found it rambling and the comparison to Ken Follett hurt it in my mind. Two out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Bernard Cornwell – Stonehenge | Firefly’s Book Blog
Stonehenge (by Bernard Cornwell: Fiction) c. 1999 | Wandering Through The Stacks

WWW Wednesday, 22-April-2015

22 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


GameofThronesCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It will come, I promise, but not just yet.
I’ve made some minor progress on Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. It’s getting there, just taking longer than I thought. I’m about 60% done now and 10% of that was in the last week so don’t give up on my yet.
Will making my way through A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. Not a huge fan so far. Science Fiction I like is rare so I’m not surprised by this one, but we’ll see how I like it when I’m done.
New audiobook to announce! I hope some of you will be happy to hear I started A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin! It’s too early for me to say how I’m feeling about it, but this will be here for a long time for me to give out my opinion.

VeryGoodLivesRecently finished: I finished the audio for Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell on Friday. Look for a review coming soon!
I also picked up a copy of J.K. Rowling’s Very Good Lives. It’s a super short book and I read it in about a half hour, but totally worth picking up. I was proud that the man ringing me up at Barnes & Noble didn’t know about the book. I’m such a trendsetter, haha!

A few of you were asking for my review of Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo. I posted it yesterday if you want to see what I thought.

White TigerReading Next: It will be The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. I’ll start it as soon as I finish Scanner so hopefully it’s off this list next week!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 15-April-2015

15 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


DarklyCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. So many of you comment on this each week that I regret I haven’t had time to work on it, but I hope to get to it soon.
No movement on Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. It’s just been a bad week for ebooks I guess. Maybe books in general, I feel like this is going to be a short update.
Minimal progress on Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. Or maybe it just feels that way. With the vacation I took last week, it seems I didn’t get through much.
I started a new book, A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. So far, it’s reminding me a bit of China Mieville and I haven’t decided how I feel about it yet. I’ll have a better update next week.

Recently finished: I did finish a book! Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo was a book club selection and I liked it well enough. You’ll probably see a review coming soon. Stay tuned.

White TigerReading Next: I have The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga on my bedside table. I know, I know. I keep saying it’s next but it really is! I promise I’ll be reading it soon. Stay tuned.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 8-April-2015

8 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


SombraCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It’s on hold for a while as I work my way through some book club selections.
I got Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins back! Nothing major with this one, just moving forward slowly. I hope I can hang on to it for a while and make some more progress with it.
The audiobook is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. It’s interesting but a really long story. The characters’ names a bit hard to keep separate because they’re all so strange and 2000 BC-esque. I’ll have to look up a character list to write the audiobook review.
I’m really enjoying Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo. It’s a lighter story in my opinion, which doesn’t seem to go with the subject well but is still enjoyable.

Recently finished: Fail, again. Nothing new. On the bright side, I posted a review of The Round House by Louise Erdrich yesterday. Check it out!

White TigerReading Next: I’m now very definitive that The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga will be my next book. I promise I’ll get to it soon and I hope to speed through it to get back to ‘Sombra.’


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 1-April-2015

1 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


BreakfastCurrently reading:  There’s been a lot of forward movement on La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I took the book with me on a flight to Texas over the weekend and made a big dent in it. I still have about 200 pages to go, but I’m a lot closer.
I lost my eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins until another copy becomes available. I hope it comes back soon, I’m missing this book!
The audiobook on my phone is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. This is my only audiobook at the moment so I’m hoping to make some big progress on it this week and next.
I got a new book club selection this week! I’ll be reading Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo this month and I know nothing about it. We’ll see where this goes.

round houseRecently finished: Yes, I actually finished something. I got to the end of The Round House by Louise Erdrich on Friday. It was a great book and I really enjoyed it! I’m excited for the book club discussion of it on the 8th.

White TigerReading Next: Yes, I know The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga has been on here for ages, but I finally have my copy of it! Big steps here. I’ll get to it after ‘Buddha’ so it might be a bit, but at least we’re making forward progress.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 25-March-2015

25 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


round houseCurrently reading:  There’s been a lot of forward movement on La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. My goal is to finish this book by the end of the year, and I’m hoping to finish it off this summer if not sooner. It’s slow going to read in another language, but it’s been enjoyable.
I lost my eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins until another copy becomes available. On hold.
The audiobook on my phone is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. It’s slowing down a bit, but I’m still enjoying it. Seven hours into a seventeen-hour story.
The audiobook in my car is The Round House by Louise Erdrich. I’m making great progress on this one and the only problem seems to be that the narrator’s voice makes me sleepy! I have to turn it off for a minute and listen to some rock music if I’m going to stay awake for the drive home. Audiobook problems.

Atomic CityRecently finished: Yikes. Nothing yet again. This is bad, I know. The books I’m moving through are all very long so it’s going to be a while before I finish any of them! This will make for an interesting post at the end of the month. Oh boy.

I was able to do one book review this week, The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. I really enjoyed the story and recommend it to anyone interested.

White TigerReading Next: I’m still waiting to read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. I heard the other two woman in my book club talking about this one and I think it will be interesting to read because it seems very ingrained in Indian culture and I might put my knowledge to the test! And have to Wikipedia a few things.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 18-March-2015

18 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


StonehengeCurrently reading:  I’ve made a lot of progress on La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. My goal is to finish this book by the end of the year, but I suspect that I’ll finish it sooner than that. It’s very tiring to read in another language, but I’m really enjoying it at the same time.
I lost my eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins until another copy becomes available. So you can consider this one on hold for a bit. It’s a shame because I was really enjoying it and the plot was starting to move a lot faster!
The audiobook on my phone is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. The story just took a really interesting turn so I’m enthralled and want to keep it moving. It gives me a good excuse to cook some complicated dishes this week!
The audiobook in my car is The Round House by Louise Erdrich. This is no happy read but I’m in love with the author’s style and it makes my commute really enjoyable.

Atomic CityRecently finished: I finished The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan last week after this post went up. I really liked the writing and I learned more about the Manhattan Project than I ever would have otherwise.

Only one book review this week, The (Forgotten) Laws of Expectation by Nicole M. Jacob. Let me know how my first poetry review went!

White TigerReading Next: I’m still waiting to read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. My other co-worker-reading-buddy has it now so we’re finally moving forward with this one.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 11-March-2015

11 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading, and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently reading:  I’m still working on my resolution to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I have a plan to get to it, but haven’t reached that point yet. As I say every week, it should be soon!
I’m working on my new eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Not a lot of progress this week, just breakfasts and waiting at the chiropractor. Ho hum.
Atomic CityI’m reading a physical copy of The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. I’m making the majority of my movement here and I’m clipping along at a good pace. I hope to finish this week and get back to Sombra.
The audiobook on my phone is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. The narrator’s voice is still a little bit grating, but I’m really enjoying the story so far and I’m looking forward to being with this one for a long time because it’s 17 hours! Yep, a whopper.
I began the audiobook of The Round House by Louise Erdrich. This is my book club’s next selection and I’m excited about it. It’s been recommended to me several times and I missed the meeting where my other book club met to talk about it.

Recently finished: After all the progress last week, I’ve got nothing this week. I guess that’s the way this reading stuff goes. Oh well.

Two book reviews since last week! I reviewed Zeitoun by Dave Eggers and The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley. Both were quality reads.

Reading Next: I’m still waiting to read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. Yes, this has been here forever, but it’s the only upcoming book on my radar and I’m not sure when it’s going to get here. I plan to spend my time getting back to Sombra and making movement on that one.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 4-March-2015

4 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading, and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently reading:  I’m still working on my resolution to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. No movement on it this week but I keep seeing it on my bed-side table and thinking I need to get back to it.
Left BehindI’m working on my new eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. This past week was really busy and I slowed down my reading in general and didn’t get to a lot of this one, unfortunately. I hope it takes a turn soon because the action seems to have slowed.
I’m reading a physical copy of The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. It’s really great so far and I’m enjoying the story a lot. There’s nothing better than well-written historical narratives to me. They make me feel well-informed and happy at the same time.
I started a new audiobook to bide my time until my library hold comes in. My mom recommended Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell to me a while ago. She said it reminded of of Ken Follett and that got me to pick it up right away.

Recently finished: We finally finished The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway! It’s been a long journey but after a lot of driving this weekend, we finished it off. I’m glad we did and I’m hoping I remember the beginning well enough to write my review!
Ptolemy GreyI finished the audio for The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley on Friday. The story started out a little hard to read for me but by the end I was really enjoying the story. I’m glad I read this one. Review coming soon.
On Monday night, I spent an hour or so going through The (Forgotten) Rules of Expectations written by my good friend, Nicole M. Jacob. This is a great little collection of poetry and if you’re a fan, I recommend this read.

Only one review written last week, but it seems to have been a really popular one; Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I adored the book and it seems a lot of you did, too!

Reading Next: I’m still waiting to read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. The woman who owns the copy went on vacation but just got back and gave our other member a copy. I’ll see how long until I get a hold of it.
Round HouseMy book club’s next selection is The Round House by Louise Erdrich. I have the audiobook on hold and I hope to start it soon!

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Recently Added to my To-Read Shelf

4 Apr

Having realized that my ‘Recently Added’ feature is very similar to MizB’s Friday Finds, I’m trying to time my posts up with hers. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so let’s delve in!

  1. Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. My mom is the first person to recommend a book to me on Goodreads and I can’t deny my first recommendation! We’re both fans of historical fiction and I expect the highest quality from her recommendations. The book covers ritual sacrifice and the building of Stonehenge.
  2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. This came out of my post about Amazon’s Book list. I was told if I’m going to write Young Adult literature, I should read it’s classics. Touche. I’m excited to read about young Mr. Caulfield’s journeys.
  3. The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Is it bad I’m reading this because I want to see the movie? Maybe? I’m still reading. My husband purchased this for a YA Lit class in college and then devoured the entire series on our honeymoon. The stories follow Thomas and the other teens that are living inside a terrifying maze. Watch the trailer:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64-iSYVmMVY
  4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood. This is another off of the Amazon list. I didn’t realize this was a dystopian book and now that I know I’m excited to read it! The women in a world of declining birth rates are only valued if they can have children. Yikes!
  5. Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon A. Thompson. Shannon is another WordPress blogger I’ve been following since I started here. I attended her virtual release party (even though I didn’t think I could!) and was lucky enough to win a copy of one of her titles. I chose the first in the trilogy she’s publishing now and I’m super excited to read about Eric and Jess’s journey!
  6. The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. We got our next round of books for one of my book clubs. This is the true story of Will and his mother and the books they read as she battles cancer.
  7. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. Another book club selection and another memoir. Cahalan was unfortunate enough to develop a rare autoimmune that had her almost declared insane. She wakes up a month after her last memory without knowing what’s happened to her.
  8. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. The co-worker who recommended Life After Life recommended this book to me as well. She said it was one of her favorites in the past fives years, years in which I missed a lot of good literature being a college student. It’s about two women growing up in 19th century China.
  9. Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. The local libraries pulled together to bring Bohjalian to the area for some speaking engagements. This is the same program that brought Bruce Feiler to town last year. In an effort to save money, Nicole and I went to a used book store on Tuesday and I bought Midwives to have him sign when we hear him speak later this month. So financially sound.
  10. Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie. I lent my friend the first in this series (Medicus) and she enjoyed it so much she went out and bought the next three! To celebrate my birthday (which was Monday if you want to say something…) she gave me the second installment in the series. I love that these books cover Roman England, which is something I think is frequently overlooked in historical fiction.

That’s it! Yes, it’s a big haul but it’s been about a month since I’ve done this for you all so it makes (a little) sense. Do I have any duds? Any winners? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Until next time, write on.