Thursday, October 11, 2018

2019 Historical Fiction Upcoming Releases

The Huntress: A Novel by Kate Quinn


Release Date: February 26, 2019



Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive.

Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

(Full description at Goodreads)



The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick


Release Date: February 26, 2019



1765: Lady Isabella Gerard asks her maid to take her new golden gown and destroy it. Its shimmering beauty has been tainted by the actions of her husband the night before.

Three months later: Lord Eustace Gerard stands beside the lake looking down at the woman in the golden gown. As the body slowly rolls over to reveal her face, it’s clear this is not his intended victim…

1996: Fenella Brightwell steals a stunning gown from a stately home. Twenty years later and reeling from the end of an abusive marriage, she wonders if it has cursed her all this time. Now she’s determined to discover the history behind the beautiful golden dress…



American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt by Stephanie Marie Thornton


Release Date: March 12, 2019



Alice may be the president's daughter, but she's nobody's darling. As bold as her signature color Alice Blue, the gum-chewing, cigarette-smoking, poker-playing First Daughter discovers that the only way for a woman to stand out in Washington is to make waves--oceans of them. With the canny sophistication of the savviest politician on the Hill, Alice uses her celebrity to her advantage, testing the limits of her power and the seductive thrill of political entanglements.

(Full description at Goodreads)



The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer


Release Date: March 19, 2019



Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate. Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents’ farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief.

(Full description at Goodreads)



When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton


Release Date: April 9, 2019



The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez--her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost.

As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future--but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything--not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart...



The Abolitionist's Daughter by Diane C. McPhail


Release Date: April 30, 2019



On a Mississippi morning in 1859, Emily Matthews begs her father to save a slave, Nathan, about to be auctioned away from his family. Judge Matthews is an abolitionist who runs an illegal school for his slaves, hoping to eventually set them free. One, a woman named Ginny, has become Emily’s companion and often her conscience—and understands all too well the hazards an educated slave must face. Yet even Ginny could not predict the tangled, tragic string of events set in motion as Nathan’s family arrives at the Matthews farm.

(Full description at Goodreads)

Monday, October 8, 2018

Review: A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler

Release Date: October 16, 2018

A leader of the woman's suffrage movement, Alva Vanderbilt (nee Smith) rejected much about the social convention of her time, and yet arguably also beat them at their own game. If you can't join them, beat them.

The first half of this was a little boring. I know it was setting the scene for Alva coming into her own later on, and we did get to see sparks of the woman she would become, but much of it was just inane snobbish chatter. I suppose it's fitting because that's probably exactly how Alva felt about it too, but it didn't make for the best reading. If we'd gotten to see a bit more of that sarcastic wit that occasionally flared up in Alva, even just internally, it probably would have been a lot more entertaining.

Additionally, I kept waiting for this to turn more political and see how Alva became so important to the suffrage movement, but we actually see very little of that, and only at the very end. It's definitely more about her earlier private life, which could have been more interesting if her characterization was fuller.

Still, watching Alva go from dutiful daughter, sister, wife, and mother to taking her fate and future into her own hands was very fulfilling and I was cheering her on the whole time. About the last third of the book is when it gets most interesting.

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



Friday, October 5, 2018

Upcoming Historical Fiction Releases

City of Secrets (A Counterfeit Lady Novel) by Victoria Thompson 


Release Date: November 13, 2018



Elizabeth has discovered that navigating the rules of high society is the biggest con of all. She knows she can play the game, but so far, her only success is Priscilla Knight, a dedicated young suffragist recently widowed for the second time. Her beloved first husband died in a tragic accident and left her with two young daughters--and a sizable fortune. While she was lost in grief, Priscilla's pastor convinced her she needed a man to look after her and engineered a whirlwind courtship and hasty marriage to fellow parishioner Endicott Knight. Now, about nine months later, Endicott is dead in what appears to be another terrible accident.

(Full description at Goodreads)



Once Upon a River: A Novel by Diane Setterfield


Release Date: December 4, 2018



On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.

(Full description at Goodreads)



The Falcon of Sparta: A Novel by Conn Iggulden


Release Date: February 5, 2019



401 BC. In the ancient world, one army was feared above all others. The Persian king Artaxerxes rules an empire stretching from the Aegean to northern India. As many as fifty million people are his subjects. His rule is absolute. Though the sons of Sparta are eager to play the game of thrones . . .

Yet battles can be won—or lost—with a single blow. Princes fall. And when the dust of civil war settles, the Spar- tans are left stranded in the heart of an enemy’s empire, without support, without food, and without water.

Far from home, surrounded by foes, it falls to the young soldier Xenophon to lead the survivors against Artaxerxes’s legendary Persian warriors.



American Duchess: A Novel of Consuelo Vanderbilt by Karen Harper


Release Date: February 26, 2019



On a cold November day in 1895, a carriage approaches St Thomas Episcopal Church on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. Massive crowds surge forward, awaiting their glimpse of heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. Just 18, the beautiful bride has not only arrived late, but in tears, yet her marriage to the aloof Duke of Marlborough proceeds. Bullied into the wedding by her indomitable mother, Alva, Consuelo loves another. But a deal was made, trading some of the vast Vanderbilt wealth for a title and prestige, and Consuelo, bred to obey, realizes she must make the best of things.

(Full description at Goodreads)



The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner


Release Date: March 19, 2019



Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943--aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.

(Full description at Goodreads)



Lost Roses: A Novel by Martha Hall Kelly


Release Date: April 2, 2019



It is 1914 and the world has been on the brink of war so many times, many New Yorkers treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanovs. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia. But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia's Imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortuneteller's daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household. On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya's letters suddenly stop coming she fears the worst for her best friend.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Review: The Lost Queen by Signe Pike

Release Date: September 4, 2018 (yes, I'm behind on my advanced review copies)

Although based on the twin sister of the legend who inspired Merlin, I would not say this is the Arthurian legend. "Pendragon" is featured, but he's not among the main characters. It's really about the daughter of a Celtic chieftain, Languoreth (aka Gwendydd in Welsh folklore), after the withdrawal of the Romans, during the invasions of the Angles and Christianity. This has always been a time period that fascinated me because there's so little reliable written history from it. This novel is a mixture of that history and the folklore that predates Geoffrey of Monmouth's Arthurian legend, and really brings this obscure time period to life.

The Celtic mysticism was a little heavy for me, but it was very well written with fleshed out characters, and the plot moved along at a steady pace.

Languoreth character was a little frustrating though. The book goes on and on about how important it was that she marry the high king's son so she (and therefore her father and brother) would have influence at court. But I really didn't see any examples of how she used her influence and power to aid her family, or her people. On the contrary, she usually does precisely the opposite of what her father, advisers, or any other allies tell her to do, and usually with unsuccessful results. She is otherwise a likable character, and the author does well to evoke empathy for her, but I kept waiting for her to do something politically significant since that's what the book had been building up to the whole time.

Additionally, there was one thing that didn't make sense to me but this one might be a bit of a spoiler:


So there were definitely things that let this book down a little bit, but overall it was a good story with excellent prose - the author certainly knows how to bring a scene and setting alive. It begs for a sequel, hopefully one in which the main character is a little more useful.

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




Friday, September 7, 2018

Early 2019 Releases in Historical Fiction

The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict


Release Date: January 15, 2019



Her beauty almost certainly saved her from the rising Nazi party and led to marriage with an Austrian arms dealer. Underestimated in everything else, she overheard the Third Reich's plans while at her husband's side, understanding more than anyone would guess. She devised a plan to flee in disguise from their castle, and the whirlwind escape landed her in Hollywood. She became Hedy Lamarr, screen star.

But she kept a secret more shocking than her heritage or her marriage: she was a scientist. And she knew a few secrets about the enemy. She had an idea that might help the country fight the Nazis...if anyone would listen to her.



Annelies: A Novel by David R. Gillham


Release Date: January 15, 2019



The year is 1945, and Anne Frank is sixteen years old. Having survived the concentration camps, but lost her mother and sister, she reunites with her father, Pim, in newly liberated Amsterdam. But it’s not as easy to fit the pieces of their life back together. Anne is adrift, haunted by the ghosts of the horrors they experienced, while Pim is fixated on returning to normalcy. Her beloved diary has been lost, and her dreams of becoming a writer seem distant and pointless now.

As Anne struggles to overcome the brutality of memory and build a new life for herself, she grapples with heartbreak, grief, and ultimately the freedom of forgiveness. A story of trauma and redemption, Annelies honors Anne Frank’s legacy as not only a symbol of hope and perseverance, but also a complex young woman of great ambition and heart.



That Churchill Woman: A Novel by Stephanie Barron


Release Date: January 22, 2019



Wealthy, privileged, and fiercely independent New Yorker Jennie Jerome took Victorian England by storm when she landed on its shores. As Lady Randolph Churchill, she gave birth to a man who defined the twentieth century: her son Winston. But Jennie—reared in the luxury of Gilded Age Newport and the Paris of the Second Empire—lived an outrageously modern life all her own, filled with controversy, passion, tragedy, and triumph.

When the nineteen-year-old beauty agrees to marry the son of a duke she has known only three days, she’s instantly swept up in a whirlwind of British politics and the breathless social climbing of the Marlborough House Set, the reckless men who surround Bertie, Prince of Wales. Raised to think for herself and careless of English society rules, the new Lady Randolph Churchill quickly becomes a London sensation: adored by some, despised by others.

(Full description at Goodreads)



The Night Tiger: A Novel by Yangsze Choo


Release Date: February 12, 2019



Quick-witted, ambitious Ji Lin is stuck as an apprentice dressmaker, moonlighting as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother’s Mahjong debts. But when one of her dance partners accidentally leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, Ji Lin may finally get the adventure she has been longing for.

Eleven-year-old houseboy Ren is also on a mission, racing to fulfill his former master’s dying wish: that Ren find the man’s finger, lost years ago in an accident, and bury it with his body. Ren has 49 days to do so, or his master’s soul will wander the earth forever.

(Full description at Goodreads)



Dear George, Dear Mary: A Novel by Mary Calvi


Release Date: February 12, 2019



Did unrequited love spark a flame that ignited a cause that became the American Revolution? Never before has this story about George Washington been told. Crafted from hundreds of letters, witness accounts, and journal entries, Dear George, Dear Mary explores George’s relationship with his first love, New York heiress Mary Philipse, the richest belle in Colonial America.

(Full description at Goodreads)



The Irishman's Daughter by V.S. Alexander


Release Date: February 26, 2019



Ireland, 1845. To Briana Walsh, no place on earth is more beautiful than Carrowteige, County Mayo, with its sloping fields and rocky cliffs perched above the wild Atlantic. The small farms that surround the centuries-old Lear House are managed by her father, agent to the wealthy, reckless Sir Thomas Blakely. Tenant farmers sell the oats and rye they grow to pay rent to Sir Thomas, surviving on the potatoes that flourish in the remaining scraps of land. But when the potato crop falls prey to a devastating blight, families Briana has known all her life are left with no food, no resources, and no mercy from the English landowner, who seems indifferent to everything except profit.

(Full description at Goodreads)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Review: Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Release Date: September 25, 2018

Juliet Armstrong works with MI5 during WWII, first simply (and rather boringly) transcribing recordings of conversations among Nazi sympathizers. But it's not long before the world of espionage engulfs her and she is asked to do much more.

I found myself struggling to get through this. The majority of it was just so dull, with what felt like a lot of rambling. Not badly written, just not captivating. It wasn't until about half way through that things picked up and became much more interesting. I still wasn't hugely invested in the characters, but the plot at least picked up. Or at least, I thought it did, and then the WWII story line abruptly ended and jumped forward, which I was expecting at some point, since I knew it was a dual time period plot, but moving forward in the timeline meant the plot slowed down again. There was another peak in the story line at the end, but I'm still not sure all the dribble in between was worth it.

There were some things I really like about this like the writing style and the periodic witty and dry quips in the narrative. And in some ways I think this could actually make an interesting movie (slow paced, granted), but I felt like much of it was just tedious.

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



Thursday, August 23, 2018

End of the Year Releases

House of Gold by Natasha Solomons


Release Date: October 23, 2018



From the New York Times bestselling author of The House at Tyneford, an epic family saga about a headstrong Austrian heiress who will be forced to choose between the family she's made and the family that made her at the outbreak of World War I.

Set against a nuanced portrait of World War I, this is a sweeping family saga rich in historical atmosphere and heartbreakingly human characters. House of Gold is Natasha Solomons's most dazzling and moving novel yet.

(Full description at Goodreads)



Heads You Win by Jeffrey Archer


Release Date: November 6, 2018



Leningrad, Russia, 1968. Alexander Karpenko is no ordinary child, and from an early age, it is clear he is destined to lead his countrymen. But when his father is assassinated by the KGB for defying the state, he and his mother will have to escape from Russia if they hope to survive. At the docks, they are confronted with an irreversible choice: should they board a container ship bound for America, or Great Britain? Alexander leaves that choice to the toss of a coin . . .

(Full description at Goodreads)



The Splendor Before the Dark: A Novel of the Emperor Nero by Margaret George


Release Date: November 6, 2018



With the beautiful and cunning Poppaea at his side, Nero Augustus commands the Roman empire, ushering in an unprecedented era of artistic and cultural splendor. Although he has yet to produce an heir, his power is unquestioned.

But in the tenth year of his reign, a terrifying prophecy comes to pass and a fire engulfs Rome, reducing entire swaths of the city to rubble. Rumors of Nero's complicity in the blaze start to sow unrest among the populace--and the politicians...

(Full description at Goodreads)



Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones


Release Date: December 4, 2018



Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine's early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.

(Full description at Goodreads)
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