Who Is to Blame? A Russian Riddle by Jane Marlow

02_who-is-to-blameWho Is to Blame? A Russian Riddle by Jane Marlow

Jane Marlow’s debut novel is a beautifully written historical saga of two families—one born of noble heritage and the other bound as serfs to the noble’s household. Set during the mid-1800s in the vast grainfields of Russia, Who Is to Blame? follows the lives of two star-crossed serfs, Elizaveta and Feodor, torn apart by their own families and the Church while simultaneously trapped in the inhumane life of poverty to which they were born.

At the other end of the spectrum, Count Maximov and his family struggle to maintain harmony amidst a tapestry of deception and debauchery woven by the Count’s son. The plot twists further when the Tsar emancipates twenty million serfs from bondage as the rural gentry’s life of privilege and carelessness has taken its final bow, while much of Russia’s nobility faces possible financial ruin.

Aficionados of historical fiction will be captivated by the lyrical flow of Marlow’s intertwining stories of love, loss, courage, and pain against her backdrop of social upheaval. The novel’s riddles flow subtly throughout, spurring readers to ponder where the blame actually lies. In the end, we must tap into our own hearts to navigate the depths and quandaries of the author’s perplexing question.

“When you try to describe Russia you can use well-known historical events. If you want to know about the lives of the Russian people, it becomes a little murkier until now. Jane Marlow has done a marvelous job in giving the reader a deep and beautiful insight into the day to day life of the Russian people from nobles to the peasants in the 19th century. As you immerse yourself in the book you can feel their struggles and experiences as though you were walking in their shoes. Brilliant!” -Mark Schauss, host of the Russian Rulers History Podcast.

The book is set in the 1800s before the emancipation of the serfs and follows Count Stepan Maximov and Elizaveta who is a peasant.

Elizaveta loves her childhood friend but they can’t marry because marrying your godparents’ child can’t happen. Instead, she has to marry a man she knows is a violent one and the marriage isn’t a happy one. But it seems like abusiveness kinda runs in Ermak’s family and Elizaveta’s sister-in-laws aren’t having any more luck in their lives.

Maximov’s lost their child and Stepan’s wife never got over her grief and it starts to affect their marriage too. Stepan struggles to run the estate, to find new ways to grow and develop it but new things takes time. In the latter part, we see more of Anton, the eldest Maximov son who spends most of his time drinking and playing cards.

I don’t really know what to say about this. I loved the book and was pleasantly surprised how good it was. It’s always hardest to write about a book you like… I just wanted to keep reading and wanting to know what happens next!

You can see that the author has done her research and there are lots of little details but it’s well written in the story.

We get to see how disconnected the nobility and the peasants were and had so little contact with each other. Nobility thought that the peasants should be thankful because they are being taken care of…. By working them to death yet they were seen as just lazy…

I wanted to slap Anton so many times that I’m not surprised that Stepan was so frustrated with him. He did change his ways a bit in the end but I would like to know if he manages to really change. But I think there is next book coming so I’m hoping we’ll see that.

4/5

Published: River Grove Books (October 18, 2016)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 301
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Mailbox Monday (28.12.2016)

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia and is now hosted on its own blog.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted my mailbox but these are what I’ve got in the past month or so. I’ve already read Who Is to Blame? and loved it.

books28-12-16
The Heaven Tree by Edith Pargeter (bookmooch)
Storm Born by Richelle Mead (bookmooch)
Who Is to Blame? A Russian Riddle by Jane Marlow (for review)

Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome by Sherry Christie

02_roma-amorRoma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome
by Sherry Christie

Marcus Carinna hears a voice whisper, “Your turn,” as he rides past his family tomb. An unseen presence also startles the Germanic priestess Aurima, whom he is bringing to Rome. But hardheaded Romans scoff at ghosts, and Marcus can’t believe it’s a warning from his brother, who killed himself three years earlier.

37 AD: To great acclaim, 25-year-old Caligula Caesar has become Rome’s new master. No one is more pleased than Senator Titus Carinna, who helped him succeed to the throne. It’s a shame the Senator’s older son–Caligula’s closest friend–committed suicide after being charged with treason. But that still leaves Marcus, his second son.

Headstrong and hot-tempered, Marcus would rather prove his courage by leading legions against Rome’s enemies than take his brother’s place. Yet when his father orders him to befriend Caligula, he has no choice.

Caught in a web of deceit, conspiracy, and betrayal, he will uncover a secret that threatens his family, the woman he desires, even his life… and may bring chaos to the young Roman Empire.

The first installment in a page-turning saga that revisits the heroes and villains of the grandest city of the ancient world…. Comes alive with the long gone characters who were its lifeblood” -Kirkus Reviews

‘Combines current political concerns, the wide lens of the serious historical novel, and emotional maturity and realism with an utterly splendid grasp of what it must have been like to live in Rome under Caligula’s reign.” -Sarah Smith, Agatha Award winner and New York Times Notable author

Marcus Carinna isn’t happy when his father orders him to leave the army life behind and come back to Rome and befriend the new Caesar Caligula. Three years ago Marcus’ brother (and Caligula’s best friend) committed suicide after charged with treason and Marcus hasn’t forgiven his father that he let it happen. It’s after he becomes Caligula’s friend he starts to unravel old family secrets.

I liked Marcus who was so devoted to learning the truth about his brother’s death. He had earned quite a reputation in Rome but seemed committed to reforming his name and to live up to his father’s expectations. When Marcus develops an interest in the Marcomanni Priestess called Aurima, his father is less than pleased.

I really liked Aurima and the chapters with the so-called barbarians. We see that women had much more rights in their life than the Roman women. I’ve never read books with Caligula with in it so this was new. Didn’t really make me like Romans more than usually…

In the end, I really loved this and it was quite a quick read too.

Published: Bexley House Books (April 15, 2016)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author03_Sherry Christie

After earning a Phi Beta Kappa creative award in college for an early draft about a nobly born charioteer, Sherry Christie spent many years of research and revision developing ROMA AMOR into the story about fathers and sons that it wanted to be. It’s a joy to immerse myself in the lives of first-century Romans–and a distinct change from my day job as a . In addition to writing, Sherry is a professional copywriter. She lives on the coast of Maine with a native-born Viking and two cats.

For more information, please visit Sherry Christie’s website. You can also connect with her on Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 24
Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 25
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, October 26
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook

Friday, October 28
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Monday, October 31
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, November 1
Review at Bookfever

Wednesday, November 2
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, November 4
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, November 7
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, November 9
Review at Bookramblings
Review at The Book Junkie Reads
Interview at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, November 10
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, November 11
Review at Beth’s Book Nook
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Guest Post at The True Book Addict

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