Book Review: Montooth 3 Red Cross of Gold by Robert Jay

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Montooth 3 Red Cross of Gold

Robert Jay

Cloverleaf Corporation

ISBN-978-0-989117-0-4

512 pages

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Monthooth 3, Red Cross of Gold is the third book in the Montooth series by award winning author Robert Jay. He begins this book with The Crew – a group of high achieving high school students on the cusp of graduation. The story continues through their college years, ending in graduation and the beginning of their adulthood.

The main story line is laid out for the reader in the first chapter when an experienced archer commits a murder. This sets the stage for Carty (the main character of the series) to be accused of the crime. She and The Crew have to find the real killer in order to save her from arrest.

There are several other stories within the main storyline. First, there is the story of Montooth as told to The Crew by Sally, a woman that was a witch in one of the previous books, but now a close friend. Montooth , a giant Florida alligator is the star of a group of fables written by Sally’s ancestors. This story features bees and bears. It is a typical fable with a moral at the end.

There are also two large sections of history interspersed with the book. One is the story of hidden gold and a society called the Templars of Scotland, dating back to 1307 and the more recent history of the overthrow of Cuba’s government. Both portions of history tied to the main story. The Templars via Sally and her family fortune and Cuba by Elena, Carty’s best friend and roommate, explain various plot points and turns. To me, this book felt like it should have been broken up into two novels as the first half is almost a separate story from the half about Cuba.

It wasn’t difficult to pick up the characters or backstory without reading the previous books in the series. What was difficult for me was the long sections of history that read like a textbook instead of a novel. It became rather dry to have so many pages of history without referring to the main story or characters, especially the chapters about the Templars. The Cuban portion was a bit more interesting because Elena and her brother were a part of the story at times.

As a work of fiction, the footnotes at the back of the book are not my favorite. Footnotes on the page don’t interrupt a reader as much has having to page back 400 pages to find the right reference. I understand the author’s need to explain history and people outside the text, but a work of fiction calls for the footnotes on the same page.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves delving a bit deeper into history than the typical historical novel.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman

Book Review: Island of the White Rose

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Island of the White Rose

R. Ira Harris

Published by Bridgeworks Publishing

ISBN-978-0-9816175-5-8

239 pages

Reviewed by Laura Hartman

Set in the turbulent political time of 1950’s Cuba, Harris’ debut novel, Island of the White Rose asks many more questions than it answers – which is good because it makes the reader think. This is a work of fiction, but the events that weave in and out of the plot are based upon historical facts when the scenes involve Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, Che Guevara and Cantillo

Father Pedro Vallanueava is at a crossroad in his life. He is struggling with his faith but does not want to disappoint his family. His oldest brother is a physician like their father, his other brother is a lawyer like their grandfather. The expectation and prayerful request of his mother was that Pedro would become a priest. Pedro is a good son and follows the path expected of him, but the collar he wears begins to choke him after time. The only place he feels comfortable in his own skin is when he is sailing aboard his family’s sailboat La Rqsa Blanca.

 La Rosa Blanca or The White Rose flourishes throughout the novel as it becomes the symbol of unity and secrecy, love, honor and sympathy. Pedro becomes involved with the revolution which conflicts with his family’s ideals and the Church’s believes. He secretly falls in love with one woman and in lust with another.

Things get quickly out of hand for him, bringing about the destruction of someone he dearly loves. Unwillingly he is thrust deeper into the revolution. The more he struggles with his situation, the quicksand of his secrets pull him further and further away from his family and home.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have the attention span of a flea anymore. In spite of my lack of willingness to read a thick biography of Castro’s revolution, I loved getting a glimpse into Cuba in the 1950s. The tactics used by the government and the revolutionaries made me cry for the ordinary people on the island just trying to live their day to day lives amidst killings, lootings and  lack of essential things like water, food and electricity.

Thanks to Harris, I know more about Cuba and want to read even more about what happened on the island.

Copyright © 2013 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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