Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Review: The Forgotten Kingdom (The Lost Queen Book 2) by Signe Pike

Release Date: September 15, 2020 

The sequel to this series loosely based on Merlin from the Arthurian Legend continues with a broader view told from more than one character's point of view. If I recall correctly, the first book (The Lost Queen) is only told from Languoreth's view point, but now we get to see her brother Lailoken's and her daughter Angharad's thoughts too.  It was a wise improvement, as we got to see more of what was going on beyond Languoreth's world. Interestingly, Languoreth and Lailoken's chapters are told in first person while Angharad's are in third person, perhaps because she is a child.

The series takes an unusual path because my understanding of the Arthurian Legend has always been the Celts battling the Saxons/Angles, but the primary antagonists for most of the book are Christian Britons. The Angles only pose a threat towards the end. It did make me wonder a little bit "where is this going?" But when I say it's loosely based on the Arthurian Legend, I mean loosely - I mean you should throw out everything you know about King Arthur and Merlin before reading it. That's not a criticism, because this is an excellent and arguably more historical reboot, and if you're looking for a totally different take on the Arthurian Legend, this is it.

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

Saturday, May 30, 2020

July Historical Fiction Releases Part 2

The Woman Before Wallis: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and Royal Scandal by Bryn Turnbull 

Release Date: July 21, 2020

In the summer of 1926, when Thelma Morgan marries Viscount Duke Furness after a whirlwind romance, she’s immersed in a gilded world of extraordinary wealth and privilege. For Thelma, the daughter of an American diplomat, her new life as a member of the British aristocracy is like a fairy tale—even more so when her husband introduces her to Edward, Prince of Wales.

(Full description at Goodreads)

The Pull of the Stars: A Novel by Emma Donoghue

Release Date: July 21, 2020

In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia's regimented world step two outsiders -- Doctor Kathleen Lynn, a rumoured Rebel on the run from the police , and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other's lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

Release Date: July 21, 2020

Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.

The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago.

(Full description at Goodreads)

The Two Mrs. Carlyles by Suzanne Rindel

Release Date: July 28, 2020

San Francisco, 1906. Violet is one of three people grateful for the destruction of the big earthquake. It leaves her and her two best friends unexpectedly wealthy--if the secret that binds them together stays buried beneath the rubble. Fearing discovery, the women strike out on their own, and orphaned, wallflower Violet reinvents herself.

When a whirlwind romance with the city's most eligible widower, Harry Carlyle, lands her in a luxurious mansion as the second Mrs. Carlyle, it seems like her dreams of happiness and love have come true. But all is not right in the Carlyle home, and Violet soon finds herself trapped by the lingering specter of the first Mrs. Carlyle, and by the inescapable secrets of her own violent history.

The Grove of the Caesars: A Flavia Albia Novel (Flavia Albia Series Book 8) by Lindsey Davis

Release Date: July 28, 2020

In the sacred grove of Julius Caesar, something deadly stirs in the undergrowth—a serial killer, who haunted the gardens for years, has claimed another victim—in Lindsey Davis’s next historical mystery, The Grove of the Caesars.

At the feet of her adoptive father, renowned private informer Marcus Didius Falco, Flavia Albia learned a number of important rules. First and foremost—always keep one's distance from the palace, nothing good comes from that direction. But right behind it—murder is the business of the Vigiles, best to leave them to it.

(Full description at Goodreads)

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

July Historical Fiction Releases Part 1

Fast Girls: A Novel of the 1936 Women's Olympic Team by Elise Hooper 

Release Date: July 7, 2020

Acclaimed author Elise Hooper explores the gripping, real life history of female athletes, members of the first integrated women’s Olympic team, and their journeys to the 1936 summer games in Berlin, Nazi Germany. Perfect for readers who love untold stories of amazing women, such as The Only Woman in the Room, Hidden Figures, and The Lost Girls of Paris.

(Full description at Goodreads)

The Ringmaster's Daughter: A beautiful and heartbreaking World War 2 love story by Carly Schabowski

Release Date: July 7, 2020

Twenty-year-old Michel Bonnet lives on the edge of the law, finding work where he can breaking in horses on the outskirts of Paris. But when the Nazis invade, Michel takes refuge as a stowaway on a rickety train bound for the rural south of France. It’s a journey that will change his life forever.

The train is property of Le Cirque Neumann – a travelling circus owned by the troubled and irritable showman Werner Neumann. Neumann offers Michel a job caring for the company’s horses – a lucky break, but with an unusual condition attached. Michel must keep to himself and never speak of what he sees behind the glittering curtain of the big top.

(Full description at Goodreads)

Miss Graham's Cold War Cookbook: A Novel by Celia Rees

Release Date: July 7, 2020

World War II has just ended, and Britain has established the Control Commission for Germany, which oversees their zone of occupation. The Control Commission hires British civilians to work in Germany, rebuild the shattered nation and prosecute war crimes. Somewhat aimless, bored with her job as a provincial schoolteacher, and unwilling to live with her overbearing mother any longer, thirtysomething Edith Graham applies for a job with the Commission—but she is also recruited by her cousin, Leo, who is in the Secret Service. To them, Edith is perfect spy material...single, ordinary-looking, with a college degree in German. Cousin Leo went to Oxford with one of their most hunted war criminals, Count Kurt von Stavenow, who Edith remembers all too well from before the war. He wants her to find him.

(Full description at Goodreads)

Bonnie: A Novel by Christina Schwarz

Release Date: July 7, 2020

Born in a small town in the desolate reaches of western Texas and shaped by her girlhood in an industrial wasteland on the outskirts of Dallas, Bonnie Parker was a natural performer and a star student. She dreamed of being a movie star or a singer or a poet. But her dramatic nature, contorted by her limited opportunities and her overwhelming love for Clyde Barrow, pushed her into a course from which there was no escape but death.

(Full description at Goodreads)

The Nesting Dolls: A Novel by Alina Adams

Release Date: July 14, 2020

Spanning nearly a century, from 1930s Siberia to contemporary Brighton Beach, a page turning, epic family saga centering on three generations of women in one Russian Jewish family—each striving to break free of fate and history, each yearning for love and personal fulfillment—and how the consequences of their choices ripple through time.

(Full description at Goodreads)

The Tuscan Contessa: A heartbreaking new novel set in wartime Tuscany by Dinah Jefferies

Release Date: July 16, 2020

In 1943, Contessa Sofia de' Corsi's peaceful Tuscan villa among the olive groves is upturned by the sudden arrival of German soldiers. Desperate to fight back, she agrees to shelter a wounded British radio engineer in her home, keeping him hidden from her husband Lorenzo - knowing that she is putting all of their lives at risk.

(Full description at Goodreads)

Saturday, May 9, 2020

June 2020 Releases Part 2

You'd think with all this quarantine time being stuck at home, I'd have plenty of time to read and update my blog, but between worrying about my husband who was sick for 7 weeks and then being sick for 4 weeks myself, somehow the blog didn't seem like a priority. Trying to make up for it now.

We Came Here to Shine: A Novel by Susie Orman Schnall 

Release Date: June 16, 2020

Set during the iconic 1939 New York World's Fair, two intrepid young women--an aspiring journalist and a down-on-her-luck actress--form an unlikely friendship as they navigate a world of endless possibility, stand down adversity, and find out what they are truly made of during the glorious summer of spectacle and opportunity...

(Full description at Goodreads)

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

Release Date: June 16, 2020

After the Cuban Revolution of 1933 leaves Mirta Perez’s family in a precarious position, she agrees to an arranged marriage with a notorious American. Following her wedding in Havana, Mirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can’t deny the growing attraction to her new husband, his illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life.

(Full description at Goodreads)

The English Wife by Adrienne Chinn

Release Date: June 25, 2020

VE Day 1945: As victory bells ring out across the country, war bride Ellie Burgess’ happiness is overshadowed by grief. Her charismatic Newfoundlander husband Thomas is still missing in action. Until a letter arrives explaining Thomas is back at home on the other side of the Atlantic recovering from his injuries.

September 11th 2001: Sophie Parry is on a plane to New York on the most tragic day in the city’s history. While the world watches the news in horror, Sophie’s flight is rerouted to a tiny town in Newfoundland and she is forced to seek refuge with her estranged aunt Ellie.

(Full description at Goodreads)

The Black Swan of Paris: A Novel by Karen Robards

Release Date: June 30, 2020

Paris, 1944. Celebrated singer Genevieve Dumont is both a star and a smokescreen. An unwilling darling of the Nazis, the chanteuse’s position of privilege allows her to go undetected as an ally to the resistance.

When her estranged mother, Lillian de Rocheford, is captured by Nazis, Genevieve knows it won’t be long before the Gestapo succeeds in torturing information out of Lillian that will derail the upcoming allied invasion.

(Full description from Goodreads)

Her Last Flight: A Novel by Beatriz Williams

Release Date: June 30, 2020

In 1947, photographer and war correspondent Janey Everett arrives at a remote surfing village on the Hawaiian island of Kauai to research a planned biography of forgotten aviation pioneer Sam Mallory, who joined the loyalist forces in the Spanish Civil War and never returned. Obsessed with Sam’s fate, Janey has tracked down Irene Lindquist, the owner of a local island-hopping airline, whom she believes might actually be the legendary Irene Foster, Mallory’s onetime student and flying partner. Foster’s disappearance during a round-the-world flight in 1937 remains one of the world’s greatest unsolved mysteries.

(Full description at Goodreads)

Friday, May 8, 2020

Review: The Land Beyond the Sea by Sharon Kay Penman

Release Date: March 3, 2020

This is a biographical novel of the sadly short and painful life of Baldwin IV, King of Jerusalem, also known as the Leper King, but as ever with Penman's novels, it's a multidimensional story told from the points of view of many fascinating characters. It perfectly balances the personal and intimate stories of the characters with the political and historical events.

So much was thrust onto poor Baldwin's shoulders from such a young age, yet he not only weathered it with more maturity than someone twice his age, he proved to be an exceptional leader, in spite of, or perhaps because of his ailment.

Agnes, Baldwin's mother, is portrayed somewhat as an antagonist, but as with all of Penman's novels, it's never that black and white. All the characters are multifaceted, with fleshed out backgrounds that make them so human and relatable.

I did feel like the plot dragged a little in the middle, but that could just be because I'm struggling with what's going on in the world and haven't been in the mood to read, plus I was sick for 4 weeks. I'd really planned to have this done before the release date.

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

Sunday, April 5, 2020

June 2020 Releases (Part 1)

Paris Never Leaves You: A Novel by Ellen Feldman 

Release Date: June 2, 2020
Edited: New Release Date: August 4, 2020

Living through World War II working in a Paris bookstore with her young daughter, Vivi, and fighting for her life, Charlotte is no victim, she is a survivor. But can she survive the next chapter of her life?

Alternating between wartime Paris and 1950s New York publishing, Ellen Feldman's Paris Never Leaves You is an extraordinary story of resilience, love, and impossible choices, exploring how survival never comes without a cost.

Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters: A Novel by Jennifer Chiaverini 

Release Date: June 2, 2020

In May 1875, Elizabeth Todd Edwards reels from news that her younger sister Mary, former First Lady and widow of President Abraham Lincoln, has attempted suicide.

Mary’s shocking act followed legal proceedings arranged by her eldest and only surviving son that declared her legally insane. Although they have long been estranged, Elizabeth knows Mary’s tenuous mental health has deteriorated through decades of trauma and loss. Yet is her suicide attempt truly the impulse of a deranged mind, or the desperate act of a sane woman terrified to be committed to an asylum? And—if her sisters can put past grievances aside—is their love powerful enough to save her?

(Full description at Goodreads)

The Joyce Girl: A Novel of Jazz Age Paris by Annabel Abbs

Release Date: June 2, 2020

For readers who adored novels like The Paris Wife, Z, and Loving Frank, comes Annabel Abbs highly praised debut novel, where she spins the story of James Joyce’s fascinating, and tragic, daughter, Lucia.

The Joyce Girl creates a compelling and moving account of the real-life Joyce Girl, of unrealized dreams and rejection, and of the destructive love of a father.

(Full description at Goodreads)

The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls: A Novel by Ursula Hegi

Release Date: June 9 , 2020
Edited: New Release Date: August 18, 2020

In the summer of 1878, the Ludwig Zirkus arrives on Nordstrand in Germany, to the delight of the island’s people. But after the show, a Hundred-Year Wave roars from the Nordsee and claims three young children.

Three mothers are on the beach when it happens: Lotte, whose children are lost; Sabine, a Zirkus seamstress with her grown daughter; and Tilli, just a girl herself, who will give birth later that day at St. Margaret’s Home for Pregnant Girls.

(Ful description at Goodreads)

Red Sky Over Hawaii: A Novel by Sara Ackerman

Release Date: June 9, 2020

The attack on Pearl Harbor changes everything for Lana Hitchcock. Arriving home on the Big Island too late to reconcile with her estranged father, she is left alone to untangle the clues of his legacy, which lead to a secret property tucked away in the remote rain forest of Kilauea volcano. When the government starts taking away her neighbors as suspected sympathizers, Lana shelters two young German girls, a Japanese fisherman and his son. As tensions escalate, they are forced into hiding—only to discover the hideaway house is not what they expected.

(Full description at Goodreads)

The Return by Harry Sidebottom 

Release Date: June 11, 2020

145BC - CALABRIA, ANCIENT ROME. After years of spilling blood for Rome, Gaius Furius Paullus has returned home to spend his remaining days working quietly on the family farm.

But it seems death has stalked Paullus from the battlefield. Just days after his arrival, bodies start appearing - murdered and mutilated. And as the deaths stack up, and panic spreads, the war hero becomes the prime suspect. After all, Paullus has killed countless enemies on the battlefield - could he have brought his habit home with him?

(Full description at Goodreads)
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