Tuscany, 1096 AD. Luca, young heir to the title of Conte de Falconi, sees demons. Since no one else can see them, Luca must keep quiet about what he sees.
Luca also has dreams—dreams that sometimes predict the future. Luca sees his father murdered in one such dream and vows to stop it coming true. Even if he has to go against his father’s wishes and follow him on the great pilgrimage to capture the Holy Lands.
When Luca is given an ancient book that holds some inscrutable power, he knows he’s been thrown into an adventure that will lead to places beyond his understanding. But with the help of Suzan, the beautiful girl he rescues from the desert, he will realize his true quest: to defeat the forces of man and demon that wish to destroy the world. ~Goodreads Blurb
Another era that one doesn’t see as much of in Historical YA fiction, the Crusades. I suppose that may be because it wasn’t a very glamorous time. Say what you want about those Tudors, and I have, but you can’t say they weren’t elaborate. Very few people have written intriguing YA fiction about the Crusades, more often the story tend to focus on those left behind, and the struggles they have to overcome having their loved ones so far away. Robin Hood and the like are definitely what comes to mind when I think of that time period. Of course you have to remember that there were more than one Crusade and they all ended in different states of disarray for either sides.
Author Kimberley Starr has taken a unique approach to this book. The boy who sees demons has a unique voice that leaves the read almost uncomfortable and uneasy while at the same time drawing you in to see what sort of chaos this boy’s life will unwind to be. The female counterpoint has her own struggles and it leaves me torn between these broken children to see who I feel for more. The tone has a more defined change once these characters meet and their adventures unfold. The fantasy elements become more heavily added once they meet. Besides an annoying tendency towards unfounded jealousy, our lead characters are well thought out and play their roles to an excellent finish, though the Big Bad battle scene was smaller than I would prefer. I would recommend this book as an excellent starter towards Crusade historical fiction. With its fantasy elements distracting and at times almost excusing the actions of the Crusaders as simple possession, the story can get a bit gory and yet somehow it quickly moves on to new locations. Starr has done a great job of combining important historical characters with her own twist on history to create this fantasy rich tapestry of the past.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Text Publishing in exchange for honest feedback**
Hamilton was a bastard son, raised on the Caribbean island of St. Croix. He went to America to pursue his education. Along the way he became one of the American Revolution’s most dashing—and unlikely—heroes. Adored by Washington, hated by Jefferson, Hamilton was a lightning rod: the most controversial leader of the American Revolution.
She was the well-to-do daughter of one of New York’s most exalted families—feisty, adventurous, and loyal to a fault. When she met Alexander, she fell head over heels. She pursued him despite his illegitimacy, and loved him despite his infidelity. In 1816 (two centuries ago), she shamed Congress into supporting his seven orphaned children. Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton started New York’s first orphanage. The only “founding mother” to truly embrace public service, she raised 160 children in addition to her own.
It seems as though thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda, the entire world now knows who Alexander Hamilton is. Even those who haven’t seen the show and have only been absorbing Hamilton through the great pop culture river that runs through life, have an idea of who and what he was about. This is another writer trying to explain the times and the lives of Alexander and Eliza Hamilton. I really enjoyed the fact that there was more focus of Elizabeth Schuyler before Hamilton arrived on the scene included in this book as I find that even with a feminist writer like Miranda, the women can end up as plot devices and advancers of the storyline rather than their own beings. I am not disparaging “Hamilton” by no means, it’s a musical about him. This story, ”The Hamilton Affair,” was more about the Hamiltons, their lives and loves.
As much as I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to other historical fiction readers interested in the Revolutionary War, there is so much more I want to know. I want to know more about the Schuylers, about the sisters and their lives. This story gave me a taste for their lives and I almost wish the writer had chosen to stick with them. I cannot begrudge author Elizabeth Cobbs for focusing on the relationships of Alexander Hamilton, they were more noted and written about historically. Now I have to go find more to sate my need for Revolutionary War historical fiction, a genre I wasn’t sure I would ever enjoy; but thanks to Elizabeth Cobbs I am itching for more.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Arcade Publishing in exchange for honest feedback*
In a North Carolina mountain town filled with moonshine and rotten husbands, Sadie Blue is only the latest girl to face a dead-end future at the mercy of a dangerous drunk. She’s been married to Roy Tupkin for fifteen days, and she knows now that she should have listened to the folks who said he was trouble. But when a stranger sweeps in and knocks the world off-kilter for everyone in town, Sadie begins to think there might be more to life than being Roy’s wife.~ Goodreads Blurb
Another title for this book might have been “If I Was A Fly On The Wall.” There are small towns all over North Carolina and this book might as well have set up shop right in the middle of one. There were a number of times that I found myself re-reading and doubling back on chapters because not only was there just so much packed into the story but the writing style is so perfect for this sort of story. Author Leah Weiss has her work cut out to top her debut novel. If she can write another even on par with this book, I would call her a success. Not only does she tie your emotions to this town, she makes it difficult not to feel every pain and sorrow her characters relate. You feel for these people even while their lives continue on. Each chapter gives you a new point of view and what they reveal, it is almost like sitting in their homes listening to their dark secrets. Some of the story lines we all know, we’ve seen it coming but like a train wreck there is nothing we can do but just watch it happen. And yet, sometimes Weiss surprised me and even though it wasn’t what I expected it, it wasn’t out of character. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy reading about small towns and getting just a slice of that style of life. *This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark in exchange for honest feedback*
In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.
On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself. ~Goodreads Blurb
Dystopian novels are all the rage and it is not often that you can get a story like “The List” that is both familiar and at the same time fresh. While the story line evokes familiar feelings and a nod to utopian societies with a dark side like “The Giver” and to a degree “Red Queen,” Patricia Forde has knocked it out of the park with her debut novel. The idea of limiting not the ideas that people have through separation but also by limiting the words that they can use is an interesting premise that Forde follows through with great strength. This is a middle school leveled book but I still was able to enjoy the familiar path. The characters were well written and though there were hints of romance there was no overtly obvious romantic overtones with the main character, while the familial bonds were highlighted. I appreciate this when the character are written very young. As someone who jumped into dystopian fiction with “Handmaid’s Tale” and “Brave New World,” I think young me would have appreciated a story like this to start me off in the dystopian style. It’s a little dark but not so much so that I would worry about giving this book to my niece or nephew.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in exchange for honest feedback*
On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell—of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.
As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.
There is definitely a strong familiar feeling to this story. It jumps through different characters point-of-view, and Lizzie’s way of thinking reminds me of The Yellow Wallpaper. This unreliable narration and the flitting between thoughts gives you a rushed feeling, as if you were racing to keep up with her. The story goes on, introducing us to more characters and their ways of thinking. Author Sarah Schmidt has done an excellent job giving each of these characters their own unique voice and yet tied them together in such a way that it flowed almost seamlessly. I was very surprised to find that this was a debut novel as her writing style seems well tested. I can understand how some might not enjoy this book and I feel like it will be very polarizing. I personally enjoy a book that lures me in and then spends the next few hours leading me down a twisting road. I do also enjoy simple A to B stories but this was a welcome break and I will be looking forward to Sarah Schmidt’s next book.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Atlantic Monthly Press in exchange for honest feedback*
July, 1579. Called upon to help a family friend who is horrified at the return of her errant husband after an absence of thirty years, little does Ursula realize that her involvement in the Harrison family's domestic dramas will lead to a case of cold-blooded murder.
Matters become even more complicated when Ursula is summoned to court to assist in negotiations for Queen Elizabeth's possible engagement to the Duke of Alencon. The proposed marriage between the queen and a French Catholic twenty years her junior is causing unrest throughout the kingdom. There are many who oppose the match - but would someone kill in order to prevent it?
Tensions increase when a prominent nobleman is accused of murder. Ursula is convinced the man is innocent - but can she prove it?~Goodreads Blurb
Over all, A Deadly Betrothal is another well written installment of author Fiona Buckley’s Ursula Blanchard Mysteries. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading any of the series, then no worries. You can easily start here and work your way back or forward. There is enough mystery and twists in order to keep you engaged with the story and the characters are filled out from their historical places into their well formed shapes. I enjoy a good historical fiction story and a murder mystery even more so. Unfortunately, Buckley decided to introduce a rape scene into this story that I feel was not even needed, nor did add anything to the story that could not have been written in another format. Sure it gave two characters a needed face-to-face but that could have been rectified with a simple attempt not a hastily written attack. I would recommend this book with the caveat that readers should skip Chapter 25 and pretend it never existed. There are some character flaws but I passed them over, as there is a chance that these traits make sense in past books. All together it is a fine piece of work, though it could have used the one edit I mentioned.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Severn House in exchange for honest feedback*
Freelance Editor & Reviewer