These are definitively in no particular order. They are all really great Podcasts and you should give them a listen. Fair Warning: If you learn something, bust a rib laughing or get distracted during your morning commute, it's not my fault so I don't have to say sorry. ENJOY!
1.The West Wing Weekly
This one I just started. Even though I have seen every episode of the West Wing I really enjoy listening to this while I get things done around the house. Josh Malina and Hrishikesh Hirway do a great job of making this fun and entertaining, while giving some context and background information.
Who doesn't enjoy a good story time? Clisare has managed to create a fun story driven podcast with loads of friends and good times. They talk about fun silly things and also serious important things. I watch it on youtube but it is on soundcloud and iTunes.
3. Personality Bingo
Warning: The theme song will get stuck in your head. It is going to happen just be prepared. It's a lovely little chat between Tom Moran and a bunch of comedians, actors, and musicians. Basically just a load of lovely people.
After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she'd make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility--no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one's station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.
In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey's grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won't see a dime of the Camden family's substantial estate. Instead, her -cousin- Melinda--Camden's biological great-granddaughter--will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda's vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell's Island. ~Goodreads Blurb
Fiona Davis has beautifully crafted this story within a story. Based around the historical building the Dakota, “The Address” weaves its way back and forth between 1880 to 1980s flawlessly. With human intrigue, romance, drama, a mystery, and family story spanning a hundred years, Davis delivers a story that draws you and has you watching your back page after page. This historical fiction novel has earned its place on my shelf and I would be wary of loaning it out for fear that it would not come back. There was clearly a lot of research that went into the writing of this story, and the way it was shared with the reader, felt conversational rather than a lecture. There was a very clear “Restoration not Gentrification” vibe that really warmed my heart. Too often it is a tear it down and make it shiney and new conversation, rather than a bring back the light on these beautiful works. Fiona Davis clearly has a taste for NYC history and architecture that I hope draws a few more books out of her. I very quickly added “The Dollhouse” to my TBR list and I can’t wait to see what else she produces. The architecture, the history, the celebrities( hey Nellie Bly totally counts as a celebrity) it really is a great read and I strongly encourage you to buy a copy for yourself and a copy to share.
*This ebook was provided by Dutton Books and NetGalley in exchange for honest feedback*
Nick and his sister Anne know well the cruel justice of King Charles I and the dangers of speaking out against the Crown. Burning with righteous passion for the cause of political and religious freedoms, hotheaded Nick fights against royalist forces with Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army while his talented sister, Anne, works with their father to print illegal Dissenter pamphlets in a tiny shed hidden on Lord Owen’s land. The fruit of their covert political rebellion for justice in England is realized when they are witnesses to the historic trial and execution of the hated monarch, but their hopeful outlook for peace in the Commonwealth and Anne’s wedding day is shattered with the tragic death of their five-year old sister. The arrest of Lord Owen’s wicked son Rupert for the crime begins a chain of events that entwine their lives leading to a night of violence that irrevocably seals their fates, and Anne and Nick must embark on a dangerous voyage across the sea to a new beginning in the English colony of Virginia. ~Goodreads Blurb
It is not often that there is historical fiction from the life of the everyday sort of folks. It is the lives of the upper class and the royals that are not only more often recorded but they are seen as better and more interesting fodder for the everyday reader. I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy this Stuart Era piece at first but once I got past the first few chapter I began to see the appeal. Not only does the author have a family connection to her subjects but she has managed to make her own family history entertaining, and not strictly informative. There is an unhealthy amount of stories with either an unfair over-assumption about the base knowledge of one’s readers or the reader is assumed to be tabula rasa and then we, the readers, have to slough through a never ending lecture about something like Elizabethan policy making. Author DJ Presson has created a very neat balance between these two all too common pitfalls, by giving some backstory without dumping an entire textbook on us. It felt familiar to the works by Oliver Pötzsch (The Hangman’s Daughter Series) in that it is an author writing about his own family. Yet both of these authors have managed to create stories that mesh into history without over glorifying the families. It is no shame to be from a family that struggled or had to politically flee. It is nice to hear about the other families and not just the Tudors and the other royal families. With only 265 pages, it is a quick read but entirely enjoyable throughout. The story moves along at a fair clip and doesn’t drag its heels. If you enjoy Cromwell era historical fiction, this will be another on your list.
*This eBook was provided by Kwill and Keebord Publishing and Netgalley in exchange for honest feedback*
When grandmother Maureen Phelan is surprised in her home by a stranger, she clubs the intruder with a Holy Stone. The consequences of this unplanned murder connect four misfits struggling against their meager circumstances. Ryan is a fifteen-year-old drug dealer desperate not to turn out like his alcoholic father, Tony, whose feud with his next-door neighbor threatens to ruin his family. Georgie is a sex worker who half-heartedly joins a born-again movement to escape her profession and drug habit. And Jimmy Phelan, the most fearsome gangster in the city and Maureen's estranged son, finds that his mother's bizarre attempts at redemption threaten his entire organization.
A bit more violent than I was expecting and tied to together with a humor that is decidedly Irish, Lisa McInerney's Glorious Heresies is a brilliant read. It's the written equivalent of being a fly on the neighbors wall. It all feels so very real and gritty that you can get lost in the story.I read this thinking it was going to be similar to Ghosts of Belfast but I would say that while they are in a similar vein they stand out very sharply from each other. There is a lightness the Glorious Heresies has even with all the grim and grit. It keeps the story from being completely devastating and heavy. If you enjoy reading fiction about "real" people than this one is definitely for you.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for honest feedback from Blogging for Books*
For twelve-year-old Ernest Young, a charity student at a boarding school, the chance to go to the World's Fair feels like a gift. But only once he's there, amid the exotic exhibits, fireworks, and Ferris wheels, does he discover that he is the one who is actually the prize. The half-Chinese orphan is astounded to learn he will be raffled off--a healthy boy "to a good home."
The winning ticket belongs to the flamboyant madam of a high-class brothel, famous for educating her girls. There, Ernest becomes the new houseboy and befriends Maisie, the madam's precocious daughter, and a bold scullery maid named Fahn. Their friendship and affection form the first real family Ernest has ever known--and against all odds, this new sporting life gives him the sense of home he's always desired.
But as the grande dame succumbs to an occupational hazard and their world of finery begins to crumble, all three must grapple with hope, ambition, and first love.
Fifty years later, in the shadow of Seattle's second World's Fair, Ernest struggles to help his ailing wife reconcile who she once was with who she wanted to be, while trying to keep family secrets hidden from their grown-up daughters.~Goodreads Blurb
As soon as word got out that there was going to be a new book by author Jamie Ford, I began my hunt for an ARC. I needed to read it as soon as possible. “Love and Other Consolation Prizes” was exactly what I’ve come to expect from Ford. Loosely based on a newspaper article, the story follows a young orphan boy’s new life in Seattle and in his old age taking care of his wife. In a familiar style, Ford jumps between two different times in his life, both centering around the World Fairs. This is a familiar style for Ford, that has definite throwbacks to one of his other books, “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.” If you enjoyed that style, then you will enjoy his latest book as well. There is a great interaction within the story between the main characters and their children. It really shows the difference between generations and the sometimes missed history that can happen in families. Often times we forget that our parents existed before we were born and that they had lives at all let alone the sort of lives that Ernest Young and his wife had to endure. Unlike some of his other books that I felt were wrapped up with perfect endings, “Love and Other Consolation Prizes” left me with a twinge of sadness. I don’t often become emotionally involved with books but this one followed me around for at least a week. If you enjoy generational stories and historical fiction then I would highly recommend this book. I would also encourage you to find a nice comfy chair and prepare to be captured.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Ballantine Books in exchange for honest feedback*
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*
Freelance Editor & Reviewer