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265 of 268 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally compelling read
I picked this book up because it was free at the time and I thought it sounded quite interesting. Within a few pages I was totally hooked.

The story revolves around the life of a New Zealand farm girl at the end of the 19th century. Amy has a good life until a new stepmother arrives and turns her family's life upside down. Amy's story is not an easy one to...
Published on 29 April 2011 by Booklover

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70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly a masterpiece BUT...
This is the first of four books (currently) about the same families living in the rural Bay of Plenty in newly colonized New Zealand. Parkinson is already working on the fifth, set during the first world war. I bought it as I've just returned from NZ, and the book was free to download. I've since gone on to purchase the other three books for about £2 each and am enjoying...
Published on 27 Jan 2012 by Claire Simmonds


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265 of 268 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally compelling read, 29 April 2011
By 
Booklover (Worcester UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sentence of Marriage (Promises to Keep Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I picked this book up because it was free at the time and I thought it sounded quite interesting. Within a few pages I was totally hooked.

The story revolves around the life of a New Zealand farm girl at the end of the 19th century. Amy has a good life until a new stepmother arrives and turns her family's life upside down. Amy's story is not an easy one to read and there were times when I wanted to get into the book and give her a good talking to. The detail within the story is fantastic and the author's writing style is descriptive and easy to read.

This book is the first in a trilogy and if you enjoy this one you will definitely be buying the next two as they literally carry on from each other (to the point that I wonder if they were originally one big book).

If you like a good family saga then this would be a good choice for you.
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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly deserving of the title "Page-turner", 2 Aug 2011
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This review is from: Sentence of Marriage (Promises to Keep Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I LOVED this book! Shayne Parkinson has done a fantastic job of painting a picture of the life of a 19th century New Zealand farm girl. I found myself absolutely enchanted with the comings and goings of Amy's family within minutes of starting to read this book.
It's effectively a historical family saga, so there are highs, lows, surprises, romances, betrayals and more. Added to all of this, there are interesting insights into farm life at that time, something that I knew little about. The character of Amy is very easy to engage with. She seems perfect at first, but is ultimately as flawed as any teenage girl trying to figure out how to bridge the gap between girl and woman. All the characters are very clearly portrayed, even the very minor ones. So much so, that I can picture them all in my mind and towards the end, I started to feel that I actually knew and understood them.
I sympathised with Amy, laughed at Lizzie her cousin, loved to hate Susannah her step-mother, felt exasperated with Jack her father and found myself whizzing through what is quite a long book, at an amazing rate because I was so engrossed in the plot.

I can't recommend this highly enough. There are very few stories of this type around and even fewer that are so well-written. I'm so glad to see that there are 3 more books in the series for me to read. I'm looking forward to all of them!

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Kindle edition: very well-formatted, no errors or problems that I could see :)
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GRIPPING READ, 31 May 2012
By 
Carol 'avid little bookworm' (LEEDS, Yorkshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sentence of Marriage (Promises to Keep Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Where oh where do I start with this review, I just can't bring myself to say I loved it, there were just too many upsetting and disturbing events but I was truly moved by reading this book and just couldn't put it down. The writing was excellent - descriptive; I had no difficulty conjuring up the environment and it moved at a good pace. I never felt as though the author was `padding it out' making it a compelling read for me, reading way way way into the early hours of the morning.

It was an absolute roller coaster of emotions all the way through this novel - anger; just at the sheer injustice of so many events and peoples actions - sad; for Amy, so loving and trusting and filled with integrity, which yes was to be admired but at times lead to her being taken serious advantage of and shouldering both blame and consequences of other peoples actions. And made me a little down at times; how much sorrow can one person take?

This is where I depart from the opinions of so many other reviewers in that, having just finished this book, I won't be rushing to download the author's next book JUST YET. Yes, I know I will download it eventually, but at the moment I'm left feeling too raw. Of course this is why this is such a good book, the characters were so well-crafted they were believable. Also, the story does finish abruptly leaving me wondering if the sequel was written at the same time?

Yes I do highly recommend both this book and the author, but do suggest caution if you're already feeling down or a little depressed and especially if you've experienced problems with child birth at any time. It's not a feel good read; well certainly not in this particular book of the saga but excellent regardless.
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70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly a masterpiece BUT..., 27 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Sentence of Marriage (Promises to Keep Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This is the first of four books (currently) about the same families living in the rural Bay of Plenty in newly colonized New Zealand. Parkinson is already working on the fifth, set during the first world war. I bought it as I've just returned from NZ, and the book was free to download. I've since gone on to purchase the other three books for about £2 each and am enjoying the series, although have not been blown away. While definite value for money I wouldn't have spent much more on them.
Parkinson has a lovely way of writing, especially conversations between characters. They are realistic and not rushed. I'd say that 85% of the books are made up of 'talking', which is easy to read, but hardly constitutes a great writer.
The main characters are well-developed, not always likeable and varying enough to maintain interest. But crikey there are some cliches. You've got the 'strong' female protagonist, the irritating but likeable friend, the slightly dim but dependable love interest, the 'nasty' love interest, and the evil step-mother (yes really). As you move into the later books the list increases. You can also see all of the plot 'twists' coming a mile off. In the fourth book I predicted a later scene almost word for word.
Although the writing itself doesn't feel rushed, the pace is far too quick, with entire years passing by in about 10 pages. The couples have so many children its difficult to keep track of who belongs to who, and as time rushes by so quickly you get no clear image of the characters. The prose, of which there is not a lot, can be rather boring sometimes and I've found myself skim-reading some parts.
BUT there is something about these books that keeps me reading, often well into the night. Despite the obvious flaws, they are intensely readable. The emotion is what draws you in, with some moments being extremely well-handled and intensely moving. Some of the descriptions of what Amy goes through are surprisingly graphic in terms of violence and sheer unpleasantness. Some parts left me feeling physically sick.
There is some sexual content in all the books, although its never added just for the sake of it, and is sometimes racy but never explicit.
Overall an enjoyable series, but with a good editor it could have been great. If anything it's nice to learn a bit about the social history of NZ, even though the majority of places in the books are fictional. Parkinson's done her research, but needs to work on her writing style if she's to win a large fan-base. It is her first novel however, so kudos for that, I know I couldn't do any better!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A charming and engaging read., 10 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Sentence of Marriage (Promises to Keep Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I suspect that I'm revealing too much of my feminine side when I say that I really enjoyed this book. It isn't my usual read; it's a gentle-paced, family saga that describes the growing to maturity of a young girl in a remote farming community in 19th century New Zealand. The descriptions of the local fauna and flora are just sufficient to create realism, although I was briefly confused by the mention of a rifleman in the undergrowth - until I realised that a rifleman is a small bird and not a sniper.
Occasionally, in the early chapters, I asked myself why I was reading it, but the book sucked me in and I couldn't stop. For me it was a page-turner, not because it was action-packed and I was desperate to find what happened next, but because the writing is so smooth that it simply carried me along. The characters are lovingly drawn. The formatting is flawless and I didn't spot a single typo - which is depressingly unusual in a self-published ebook.
Now it's on to the next one in the series.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be prepared to read all 4 books - a masterpiece, 5 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Sentence of Marriage (Promises to Keep Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I bought this title because it was free and now I know the reason why. As soon as I read a Sentence of Marriage I HAD to purchase the other 3 books, and so will you.

The book centers around Amy - a young farm girl who lives with her father and brothers and to a smaller extent, her best friend and cousin Lizzie. You can't help but love Amy. She is sensible, gentle, beautiful and only wants to make those around her happy. You know soon into reading that she deserves more than the simple farm life she leads and that she would be a success no matter where she goes. The thing with Amy is, like some of the best people in life, she just can't seem to catch a break.

Amy has her work cut out for her, since her mother died she takes care of three grown men. She really wants to teach at the local school, something she is good at, but because of her home commitments she has no time. Then her father brings home an evil stepmother. No, this isn't a fairytale and this stepmother is worse than any stepmother we ever got told of as children and Amy, true to her nature, tries everything in her power to please her to make her father happy, to no avail.

Then just when everything is looking bleak for Amy a handsome man from the city comes to stay. He is charming, funny and gorgeous and holds a future of promise for Amy. You desperately want her to be happy because she deserves it, but like I mentioned before Amy is one of those people who can't catch a break and this is no fairytale.

I spent the second half of the book knowing that things weren't right but wishing that I was wrong. I couldn't stop reading until I got to the end because I had to know that things would be alright for Amy. And when I got to the end of this one I had to buy the next because I just had to know that things would be alright for Amy.

It was so engaging and the characters are so complex. I am not one for period dramas but couldn't put this down because Shayne Parkinson has written a book that goes beyond the formalities, politics and dresses of the period its set in. She's written a book of characters you get to care immensely about.

I took Amy to bed with me in my thoughts every night, at work during the day, and every second when I couldn't read about her life. Be prepared to do the same.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars about to buy the second, 9 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Sentence of Marriage (Promises to Keep Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I have just finished the first book in the series which i put onto my kindle because it was free,not my usual type of book at all! but having just finished it am about to buy the others because I really enjoyed the read,and it reminds me of how far as women we have fought to change things, and whilst some of the same stuff happens we now have the freedom to choose!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well crafted main character, 18 April 2012
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This review is from: Sentence of Marriage (Promises to Keep Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I was attracted to this novel simply by the fact that it was set in a completely different location - New Zealand. The lead character, Amy, made me feel sorry for her and then want to give her a telling off for being so silly, proving (for me) that the author had crafted a rounded character. The other characters were well crafted and gave you a definite feel of how hard the times were living out in the bush. Very enjoyable and I will definitely buy the next book in the series
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow - straight onto the next, 10 April 2012
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This review is from: Sentence of Marriage (Promises to Keep Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This book had me pushed into a corner - no escape - reading till the small hours - the portrayal of the times and the place were brilliant, I loved it! I became truly devastated by the way the plot went and really felt depressed by it - and yet you cannot let go and feel compelled to read on - I have just downloaded the next three in the series - I need to know it got better in her life!

I really recommend this book - even if the price changes to £5 from being free I would recommend this book - a wonderful read and I am off now to start book 2!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best free read ever, 11 Mar 2012
This review is from: Sentence of Marriage (Promises to Keep Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
i only had this book because it was free, it didn't take long to be totally wrapped up in the story. I don't normally read books that are set that far back (in time) but this one is a gem. i have since brought all of the rest in the series and they are all absolute must reads.
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