Tag Archives: Ruth Downie

Book Review: Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie (4/5)

18 May

It was years ago that I read the first book in this series, Medicus. I think it was in high school and I grabbed the book off a shelf at Borders because of a gift card I had. Years later, a friend of mine saw I’d marked it as ‘books I own’ on my Goodreads shelf and asked to borrow it. She loved the title and went on to finish the series! She gave me the second book, Terra Incognita as a birthday present and it’s sat on my shelf until now. I decided to listen to this book so I could enjoy it sooner. The sequel, Persona Non Grata, is also on my shelf and may be another audiobook.

Cover image via Goodreads

Terra Incognita (Medicus Investigation #2) by Ruth Downie

Summary from Goodreads:

It is spring in the year 118, and Gaius Petreius Ruso has been stationed in the Roman-occupied province of Britannia for nearly a year. After his long and reluctant investigation of the murders of a handful of local prostitutes, Ruso needs to get away. With that in mind, he has volunteered for a posting with the army in Britannia’s deepest recesses- a calmer place for a tired man.

But the edge of the Roman Empire is a volatile place; the independent tribes of the North dwell near its borders. These hinterlands are the homeland of Ruso’s slave, Tilla, who has scores of her own to settle there: Her tribespeople are fomenting a rebellion against Roman control, and her former lover is implicated in the grisly murder of a soldier. Ruso, filling in for the demented local doctor, is appalled to find that Tilla is still spending time with the prime suspect. Worse, he is honor-bound to try to prove the man innocent-and the army wrong- by finding another culprit. Soon both Ruso’s and Tilla’s lives are in jeopardy, as is the future of their burgeoning romance.

I kept thinking that I would look up a summary of Medicus before I read this to make sure I remembered what happened but I never did. I remembered the important parts, that Tilla was a slave Ruso bought and she’s his housekeeper. That was as much as I needed to remember. The story was written so that the important parts from the previous book were introduced in this one so I didn’t have to feel stupid. It’s kind of like how Rowling will re-explain Hogwarts in the second and third Potter books, you know, just in case you forgot. The book was as sarcastic and fun to read as I remembered so I had a lot of fun listening to it. The mystery also wasn’t so buried in a single detail that I couldn’t solve it which I enjoyed as well. I followed Ruso’s suspicions and thought, “Yeah, it’s totally him!” when he had the wrong guy in mind and doubted Tilla when Ruso doubted her. Downie sucked me in.

Part of the fun of Ruso is that he’s smarter than a man in 118 should be and as a modern reader, you can sympathize with him. He doesn’t believe in praying to the Gods and he doubts the Roman system he’s sucked into more than a doctor of his time likely would. He’s smart like the modern man so he’s a bit out of place and unbelievable in the setting, but he’s what the reader needs to connect with that time. Gambax is more like the man I’d expect in that time period whose intelligence is very self-serving.

As I’m implying, I liked Ruso best. He was easiest to relate to and he was a kind person who got taken advantage of. He’s easy to like and I share his sympathies and frustrations because of that. Even when he sees Tilla and the other women hurting the guilty man, he wants him to be dealt with using the Emperor’s justice. He does things the right way and is admirable.

I think the realization Tilla comes to about Rianorix is very enlightening and one that a lot of people are afraid to admit. While Rian might love her and take care of her, he’s going to be in love with Aemilia until he does and settling for him would only her Tilla in the end. She has to be very brave to walk away from him and I’ve met people who are not that brave or wish they were.

Ruth Downie
Image via the author’s website

I liked the scene where Ruso hosted the free clinic. I thought the descriptions of the people who came to see him and the ailments they complained of was well written and really well researched by the author. Ruso showed his intelligence but also worked like a man in 118 with the limited resources he had. The sarcasm and humor in the scene were really enjoyable as well.

Because I liked Ruso so much, it was hard to hear about his flaws and Tilla pointed them out a lot at the beginning. Though he’s in debt, he spends a lot of money on luxuries and that was hard for me to read about. I’m very frugal so Ruso’s decisions to spend money on a hotel room was frustrating. I agreed with Tilla but it made me uncomfortable to hear negative things about a hero I like so much.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Simon Vance. He did a good job of capturing the sarcasm of Ruso and Tilla and I really appreciated that. I hope he narrates the entire series because he has a good way of expressing Ruso’s frustrations at the world he lives in and I appreciate that.

Greed plays a big role in the motivation for the murder. The killer is overreaching his means and has to protect himself to maintain his social position. The book also talks about discipline and how the hospital works when there’s discipline and order and how chaos can cause problems. Thessalus’s story is about love and devotion where there shouldn’t be any and I found this endearing and sweet. It made for a great plot twist!

Writer’s Takeaway: Two things Downie does made this book stand out for me. The first was a relatable character where history says there likely wasn’t one. She had to manipulate Ruso a little to make him relatable but I think that’s important for her series. The second is that these books are funny. It’s a subtle humor but it’s really fun, especially with the audiobook and a narrator that articulates it so well.

This book was really fun and I hope I don’t wait as long to read the third one! Four 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 Post:
Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie | ozziesbookblog

Advertisements

WWW Wednesday, 10-May-2017

10 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm 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!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

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

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I didn’t think it would happen but A Son of the Circus by John Irving is picking up quickly! It took far too long for this to happen, but it’s finally happening. I’m so glad because I was really close to giving up on it. I got through a lot last week with a lot of time to myself but classes have started up again and I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep it up.
I started a new eBook, Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. If it’s not clear yet, I love circus-themed books. I’ll probably be reading this one for a while but it’s a very fast read so far. She’s already fallen in love in the elephant tent so I’m not sure where this one is going to go.
I needed a new audiobook and started Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres. I put several on hold but this was available when I needed it. It’s quite short and I expect I’ll wrap it up quickly so maybe one of those other holds will come in while I’m waiting. I love when things work out perfectly like that.

Recently finished: I got the ILL for The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler and finished the last twenty pages! I thought I might have been exaggerating when I said that was all I had left but I was really close. The book was fun and I’m glad I saw it through to the end. I was able to finish it while I ate lunch the day I picked up the hold. I wish I’d just sat down in a comfy chair and finished it without leaving. I wrote a full review on Monday if you want to go check that out.
I wrapped up Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie on Monday night! I wasn’t expecting to finish it so quickly so that was a pleasant surprise for me. I liked the book and I’m looking forward to reading more about these characters as I continue the series down the road. I’ll have a review up next week.

Reading Next: I still have my eyes set on The Circle by Dave Eggers. I’m having a slow go at my physical book right now but the carrot of seeing this movie is pushing me forward.


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, 3-May-2017

3 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm 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!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

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

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: You guys, the worst thing ever happened. I lost my hold on The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler! I’m so mad. I put in a request for an inter-library loan for the physical copy and I’m hoping it comes in soon so I can devour the rest of this book. Ugh!
A Son of the Circus by John Irving has got me down. I usually find something in an Irving novel that moves it along for me, but not so far in this one. I’m not reading it much in my down time because I’m so bored with it. Maybe it will pick up? Maybe I’m overly optimistic?
I’m really getting into Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie. I don’t remember too much from the first book but I don’t really need to and I’m still enjoying this book. I think I’ll finish it pretty fast with all the driving and running I’m doing this week!

Recently finished: Again, nothing! Boo long books! I’m so cyclical with books now, I’m either finishing them all or in the middle of them all, haha. I hope to have ‘Speculation’ here next week!

Reading Next: It will be The Circle by Dave Eggers! I’ve been sneaking pages as I walk past my book shelf, but I’m not counting it as started yet. I can’t wait to read this one and go see the movie! I hope I can get through it really fast.


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, 26-April-2017

26 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm 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!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

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

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I’m getting so close to the end of The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler! I had to wait 40 minutes to see the eye doctor last Thursday and I got completely sucked in. Without studying to do during my lunch breaks, I think I’ll finish this one very soon!
A Son of the Circus by John Irving is not really picking up. I really hoped it would, but I’m plodding along still. With a week I’ll be without my husband, maybe I’ll find some time?
I started Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie on Saturday. Time will tell how well I remember the plot of the first one I really think it’s been maybe ten years since I read it because I’m thinking it was in high school!

Recently finished: I finished Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See on Friday while driving around for work. I thought the ending was really well done. I got to listen to the end of the story in pretty rapid succession over the last few days which was a really great experience. I adore getting to binge on books, especially ones that are this moving. The story was beautiful and I understand there’s a movie I can watch soon! It will be fun to compare them. When I heard See speak, she said it was very different from the book! I was sad to realize this book wouldn’t count for a new time period in the When Are You Reading? Challenge, but it’s a very new time and culture for me! My review will be up tomorrow so please check that out!

Reading Next: My plan is still The Circle by Dave Eggers. I may have to find an ebook before I get to that, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I’m getting more and more excited for this book each week when you all tell me how excited you are as well, haha.


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, 19-April-2017

19 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm 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!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

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

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I didn’t have a chapter to read for school this week so I got through some of The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler during my lunch breaks. The plot is really picking up and I’m considering devoting myself to this one when In finish Circus.
A Son of the Circus by John Irving is still a slow go. I’m not completely surprised, but I wish there as a bit more keeping me engaged by now. I’m about 100 pages in and it’s still dragging a bit.
I’m in love with Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. I really hope to put this on my ‘finished’ list next week because I’m listening to it at every opportunity and loving the story. I heard See say that there’s a movie based on the plot that doesn’t follow much at all but I’m curious to see it still.

Recently finished: After such a great showing last week, I’m empty this week! I hope to have Snow Flower here next week. Boo.

Reading Next:  Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie is still next for audiobooks. I’ll pick it up as soon as Snow Flower is over.
For physical books, I’m going to pick up The Circle by Dave Eggers. I’ve been seeing all of the trailers for the movie and my love for Emma Watson is running over now that it’s combined with Eggers. I have yet to read a book of his I didn’t love.


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, 12-April-2017

12 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm 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!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

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

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I was an hour early for a conference on Friday so I spent the time reading The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler at Starbucks. I got through a few chapters and I’m about halfway through the book now. Slow and steady but really enjoying this one.
A Son of the Circus has been a slow start. I’m hoping it picks up because this brick is over 600 pages long! I love Irving but this is very different from his earlier books. I hope I can still enjoy it.
I started listening to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See on Saturday for a two-hour workout so I made great progress in it already. It’s not too long so I’m hoping I can get through this one quickly.

Recently finished: I finally finished Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs! Hubby and I split up to finish it and I came through on Friday, him on Saturday. My review of it went up yesterday and I warn you, it is not glowing. I gave it 2 out of 5 Stars. We watched the movie as well and I’ll post about that tomorrow.
I also got through Once In a Great City by David Maraniss. This was really fun to listen to and for anyone based in Detroit, I think it’s worth reading. It gives a great image of what our city was and what it could be again. I gave it 4 out of 5 Stars. I’ll be posting about this book again as Maraniss visits Detroit to talk about the book.

Reading Next: I think I’ll need another audiobook next, which seems crazy after finishing two this week! Next on my list is Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie. It’s been years since I read the first in this series so I may have to read some summaries to refresh myself. The subsequent books are also available on audio so I hope to move through some of them soon.


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!

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.

WWW Wednesday, 26-Mar-2014

26 Mar

Being a part of MizB’s WWW Wednesday meme is making me read faster! I want to be able to post about different books each week!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

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

Currently reading: If you’ve been following me it should be no surprise that I’m still reading Harry Potter y la Orden del Fenix by J.K. Rowling. But what will surprise you is that I’m almost done! I’m within 100 pages of the end of this 900 page behemoth and I’m at cruising speed now that they’re at the ministry for the final fight. On audio book I just started Cabin Pressure by Josh Wolk. This is my first comedic book in a while and I love that I’m laughing while driving home from work. It’s a nice way to end my days. On my phone I’m still working through The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. I’m at a snail’s pace here. Maybe it needs more time, but I’m not invested in this one yet and it’s a bit of a struggle.

Recently finished: My review for Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher went up yesterday. I had mixed feelings on this one, please let me know what you thought.

Reading Next: My attempts to read First Reads books have been foiled! My coworker just lent me Life After Life by Kate Atkinson so that’s next on my list. We started an unofficial mini-book club at work and I’m the last one to read this so I better hop to it! Another friend is going to loan me Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie, the sequel to Medicus, which I read in high school. I lent the first one to her and she went out to buy the sequels that I didn’t even know existed! I promise to eventually get to my First Reads book. Finish Harry Potter is step one!

That’s it from me. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.