Friday, March 2, 2018

Review: Between Earth and Sky by Amanda Skenandore

Release Date: April 24, 2018

A slow paced but poignant exploration of the treatment of Native Americans in history from the point of view of a young, coming of age girl. Alma, the main character, is a young white girl in a unique position of growing up among Native American children at her father's boarding school for "civilizing" them. Naturally, she befriends them, and like them, she is caught between two worlds, but does she truly understand them and their situation? As an adult, she has to the face the ghosts of this past.

I really enjoyed the way this story was told, set in two time periods but told in parallel to each other. I know lots of book have used this method before, but few do it quite so well as this one. It's slow paced, but never boring. The chapters set in 1906 hint and foreshadow at something significant that happened in the past, while the chapters set in the past slowly evolve to show you what happened. Eventually, the past catches up and it all comes to a head.

Beautifully written with realistic, three dimensional, sympathetic characters, and complex relationships, this is easily the best novel on this subject matter I've read so far. I definitely look forward to what this debut author has to offer in the future.

Advanced review copy from publisher via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Review: The Bookworm by Mitch Silver

Release Date: February 6, 2018

There are two different plots in this book: one about a Russian historian who is given crucial new information about WWII, and another about a political oil scheme in Alaska. I thought for sure eventually, they'd somehow come together but by the end, I still felt like they really didn't have anything to do with one another. It just didn't make much sense and too much of the plot(s) and premise felt contrived.

The writing was okay, and the characters started off well, but wound up doing things which also didn't make much sense. Characters who don't even know what's going on somehow wind up involved but don't even question it, they just jump right in.

Needless to say, the premise felt flimsy, the plots disjointed, and the characters artificial.

Advanced review copy from publisher via Net Galley. My opinions are my own.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Review: The Tudor Bride by Joanna Hickson

A sequel to The Agincourt Bride, about the latter portion of Catherine of Valois' life. It's as good as the first, and again written in first person from the point of view of Catherine's servant, Mette. It dragged a little bit in the middle, the beginning and end were much more eventful, but I suppose that was to be expected given that not much was going on in Catherine's world at the time. Still, it manages to hold your interest and the ending was moving.

I still think it might have been better written in third person or from multiple character's points of view. Limiting the narrative to one character who was normally by Catherine's side, but not always privy to everything going on felt a little like you didn't get to see everything.

Overall, a read good and good follow up to The Agincourt Bride, though it could be read as a stand alone, if you enjoyed the first book, definitely read this sequel.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Upcoming Releases

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman

Release Date: February 13, 2018

Violet Iverson and her young daughter, Ella, are piecing their lives together one year after the disappearance of her husband. As rumors swirl and questions about his loyalties surface, Violet believes Ella knows something. But Ella is stubbornly silent. Something—or someone—has scared her. And with the island overrun by troops training for a secret mission, tension and suspicion between neighbors is rising.

(Full description at Goodreads)

Ecstasy: A Novel by Mary Sharratt

Release Date: April 10, 2018

Gustav Klimt gave Alma her first kiss. Gustav Mahler fell in love with her at first sight and proposed only a few weeks later. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius abandoned all reason to pursue her. Poet and novelist Franz Werfel described her as “one of the very few magical women that exist.” But who was this woman who brought these most eminent of men to their knees? In Ecstasy, Mary Sharratt finally gives one of the most controversial and complex women of her time the center stage. 

(Full description at Goodreads)

The Romanov Empress: A Novel of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna by C. W. Gortner

Release Date: July 10, 2018

Barely nineteen, Minnie knows that her station in life as a Danish princess is to leave her family and enter into a royal marriage—as her older sister Alix has done, moving to  England to wed Queen Victoria’s eldest son. The winds of fortune bring Minnie to Russia, where she marries the Romanov heir and becomes empress once he ascends the throne. When resistance to his reign strikes at the heart of her family and the tsar sets out to crush all who oppose him, Minnie—now called Maria—must tread a perilous path of compromise in a country she has come to love.

(Full description at Goodreads)

The Masterpiece: A Novel by Fiona Davis

Release Date: August 7, 2018

For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public's disdain for a "woman artist." Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded--even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter--Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they'll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

(Full description at Goodreads)

Auschwitz Lullaby: A Novel by Mario Escobar 

Release Date: August 7, 2018

In 1943 Germany, Helene is just about to wake up her children to go to school when a group of policemen break into her house. The policemen want to haul away her gypsy husband and their five children. The police tell Helene that as a German she does not have to go with them, but she decides to share the fate of her family. After convincing her children that they are going off to a vacation place, so as to calm them, the entire family is deported to Auschwitz. 

(Full description at Goodreads)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Review: Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway #1) by Jennifer Ashley

The first full length novel in this new Victorian mystery series with cook Kat Holloway was everything I'd hoped it'd be after reading the teaser of a prequel novella. We learn a little bit more about the mysterious Daniel McAdams, and lot more about Kat herself, and they do not disappoint. The character development was every bit as good as the prequel novella promised, including the new characters. The plot takes us around London and into the countryside, keeping you hooked till the end, as things escalate to royal proportions.

I loved the delicious descriptions of food throughout the story too - they made me hungry. It was interesting to see the author's note mention Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management as a main source of her food descriptions. This book is available for free from several venues, if anyone is curious.

I do think Jennifer Ashley has set herself quite the challenge in making the main character a cook. By Kat's own accounts, she rarely has time for anything other than cooking. She is pretty much constantly cooking or buying food for the next meal she has to prepare. She managed to take a break from it to stay in the midst of the action this time, but going forward, whenever will she have the time for amateur sleuthing? I can't wait to find out.

I recommend reading the prequel novella first. Although I'm sure this could be read on it's own, the prequel is a better introduction to Kat and Daniel's relationship.

Advanced review copy from publisher via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Review: The Sword Decides by Marjorie Bowen

This was the only novel I could find based on Joanna I of Naples, which still surprises me because she lived such an eventful life. And extra bonus, it was free because it was written in 1908. The writing was good, especially given the time period it was written in (sometimes older books have a style I don't love), but unfortunately, I just couldn't connect with any of the characters, none of them seemed like likable protagonists. It's a shame - I'd love to see a well done dramatized account of Joanna's life.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ebook Deals

Click the cover to view and buy the book in the Kindle store. While I only post links to the Kindle store, often times you can find the same titles on sale at other stores.

US Kindle Deals, fiction under $4, non-fiction under $6:


UK Kindle Deals, fiction under £3, non-fiction under £4:


Disclaimer: Ebook prices are subject to change anytime. I can only promise they are under a certain price at the time I post them.
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