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Feb 26, 2016

Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral by Mary Doria Russell

Friday, February 26, 2016
Absolutely captivating novel on Wyatt Earp and his life

Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral by Mary Doria Russell
March 2015
Borrowed from library
Burton Book Review Rating: 5 stars
Mary Doria Russell, the bestselling, award-winning author of The Sparrow, returns with Epitaph. An American Iliad, this richly detailed and meticulously researched historical novel continues the story she began in Doc, following Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday to Tombstone, Arizona, and to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
A deeply divided nation. Vicious politics. A shamelessly partisan media. A president loathed by half the populace. Smuggling and gang warfare along the Mexican border. Armed citizens willing to stand their ground and take law into their own hands. . . .

That was America in 1881.
All those forces came to bear on the afternoon of October 26 when Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers faced off against the Clantons and the McLaurys in Tombstone, Arizona. It should have been a simple misdemeanor arrest. Thirty seconds and thirty bullets later, three officers were wounded and three citizens lay dead in the dirt.
Wyatt Earp was the last man standing, the only one unscathed. The lies began before the smoke cleared, but the gunfight at the O.K. Corral would soon become central to American beliefs about the Old West.
Epitaph tells Wyatt’s real story, unearthing the Homeric tragedy buried under 130 years of mythology, misrepresentation, and sheer indifference to fact. Epic and intimate, this novel gives voice to the real men and women whose lives were changed forever by those fatal thirty seconds in Tombstone. At its heart is the woman behind the myth: Josephine Sarah Marcus, who loved Wyatt Earp for forty-nine years and who carefully chipped away at the truth until she had crafted the heroic legend that would become the epitaph her husband deserved.

I don't know what prompted me to borrow this book from the library (digital library loan, my new bff!), as I am not a passionate fan of the Earps, the Wild West, or Tombstone. Something told me I would be missing out if I passed this up, based upon the many rave reviews on Amazon. I read this chunky 597 pages in a four day span - with me working full-time and chauffeuring kids etc, and so that tells you something right there.

This is not a novel that is just based on the O.K. Corral shootout - but everything that leads up to it and why. Characters such as the Earp brothers and their ladies are the main draw, but the novel actually opens with Josephine Marcus, aka Sadie, who later became the significant other to Wyatt Earp. Doc Holliday is prominent as well, and I cannot wait to sink my teeth into the author's previous novel, aptly titled 'Doc'. The political scheming of the era, with the law men, Cow-Boys, and newspaper editors all come together to breathe glistening life into the author's story which I just could not put down. I loved every minute of it, and the research of the author shows in her words.

Tombstone movie watchers will find it hard to not have those actors playing through their minds as they are reading the book, but that was not a bad thing for me. I am going to re-watch that movie just to relive it again. A wonderful novel on an epic time period of America that won't disappoint.

BEST OF 2016 - my first find for the year as a new favorite!

This is another book to add to my personal resolution of 2015 to read my own books, and ban review books. 

Feb 24, 2016

Lady Maybe by Julie Klassen

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Lady Maybe by Julie Klassen
Berkley, July 2015
Source- borrowed from my library
Burton Book Review Rating: 4.5 stars

In the new novel by the three-time Christy Award-winning author of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, a woman’s startling secrets lead her into unexpected danger and romance in Regency England…
 One final cry…“God almighty, help us!” and suddenly her world shifted violently, until a blinding collision scattered her mind and shook her bones. Then, the pain. The freezing water. And as all sensation drifted away, a hand reached for hers, before all faded into darkness…
Now she has awakened as though from some strange, suffocating dream in a warm and welcoming room she has never seen before, and tended to by kind, unfamiliar faces. But not all has been swept away. She recalls fragments of the accident. She remembers a baby. And a ring on her finger reminds her of a lie.
But most of all, there is a secret. And in this house of strangers she can trust no one but herself to keep it.
One of the quotes/blurbs you will see on Klassen's works is:
“[It’s] what readers love of Jane Austen, Downton Abbey and even a bit of Jane Eyre…everything a historical romance reader looks for.”—Historical Novels Review which is actually from a review I had written for the HNR site. You can read my reviews of Klassen's work here. This novel is written for less of an inspirational perspective as it is not published by Bethany House like most of her other work, and as such could disappoint her most avid readers, and judging from Amazon reviewers I think it did due to the fact that there were some romantic scenes throughout.

The quickest summary of the novel is one of a type of a Cinderella or rags to riches story. The maid gets mistaken for the true wife of a gentleman, thus the title "Lady Maybe". There is a large amount of hiding identity, thus untruthful aspects are applied to our heroine. The gothic tones we come to expect from Klassen are no longer evident, and it really just reads like a regency style romance with a bit of a thrill interlaced which in itself is not a bad thing.

I enjoyed the characters, and the pacing was swift and kept me guessing. The plot deals with the summary above and the heroine having to choose between two men and I ultimately had no idea which way it was going to go as the novel didn't really address a certain back story very thoroughly. While written with less of the gothic and inspirational undertonees, Klassen's beloved compelling writing style is still evident here.While it may not be a favorite Julie Klassen novel and its certainly not an epic read, I am still glad I was able to enjoy this novel for free via my local library's eBook program.

This is another book to add to my personal resolution of 2015 to read my own books, and ban review books. 

Feb 21, 2016

Prophet by Frank E. Peretti

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A look at the machine of media, politics, and cover-ups

Prophet by Frank E. Peretti
first published 1992, my edition published 2003 Living Books
575 pages
Personal copy
Burton Book Review Rating: 4 stars

Read my review of Peretti's Illusion here

A thriller that penetrates to the very heart of a vast struggle that threatens to tear our society apart. Successful news anchorman John Barrett is caught in a suspenseful moral and spiritual battle over the importance of Truth. Using all the elements of edge-of-your-seat fiction, master storyteller Frank Peretti weaves a prophetic tale of our times.
This is the second Frank Peretti book that I've read and I am now even more looking forward to reading his others from his back list, such as The Visitation, which was made into a movie (of course, the book is way better than the movie). One of the draws to his novels is that most of them are chunky - five hundred plus pages - which means less of an opportunity to rush through the narrative although it could mean a slow start. While Prophet is an older published novel the context is still relevant today as it delivers on a hot topic of abortion using a news anchorman as the medium. The story focuses on how the political bigwigs use their clout to cover up poorly run clinics and how they react to the direct results of deaths of young women due to the shoddy practices at these clinics.

The complex plot features John Barrett and his family and how he is reluctant at first to draw attention to the botched abortion issue due to the fact he is a well respected anchorman and the face of the popular news station. He has bosses to deal with, not to mention forces behind the camera that would rather bury the ugly truth. It is this very 'Truth' that emerges as the major theme, and how it has been ignored and needs to be restored. The title of the book is 'prophet' for a reason and the entire media circus and the facade of political translucency is brought into the open as the story develops. There is a lot going on with several characters but suffice to say that there are plenty of realistic portrayals of several stereotypes of people within our culture, from poor waitresses to doting moms to the thug who is hired to kill people.

While Peretti is not a very prolific author of adult fiction, the eight that he has written thus far are told with a strong voice that weaves his faith and natural storytelling abilities together, giving Peretti the reputation of changing the face of Christian fiction. The plots are intriguing and twisting, and they dare to look deeper to discern the obscured meanings, translating the truth from what is fiction. With over 15 million novels in print, this author is not one to miss if you are looking for a faith based novel with captivating themes surrounding spiritual journeys.

And yes ma'am, this is just another book to add to my personal resolution of 2015 to read my own books, and ban review books. You go, girl.