What happens when the line between the past and the present begins to blur...
Rachel Miller is on the cusp of a new life when she moves to Union Cemetery after marrying Adam, the 7th generation cemetery keeper. Though she's known him only twelve weeks, his tender love seems like a miracle of fate after her years alone.
On her first walk through the lush and silent grounds of her new home, Rachel discovers a stunning monument to Tillie Smith,who died in 1886. Reading the words carved into the stone, "She Died in Defence of Her Honor," Rachel is overcome by a powerful memory buried deep in her past.
A series of uncanny coincidences linked to Tillie Smith follows, setting Rachel on a journey that grows into an obsession: Why did the murder of a poor kitchen maid at the local seminary become a national sensation? Why were people in town trying to keep her from finding the truth? But most disturbing of all, why was Tillie reawakening a past Rachel chose to bury long ago. A past that could threaten her marriage.~Goodreads Blurb
Following the trend of many new books, the main character is first introduced to us through her husband’s occupation in the title. Instead of the focus being on this smart auctioneer/historian, we are introduced to her as the wife of the Cemetary Keeper. In the beginning, she is just barely that, as they have just been married. She has a secret and so does he. Instead of starting out this new path with a clean slate the author has decided that they should stumble through things trying to hide who they are and yet create a new life together. There seems to be a theme of new beginnings overshadowed by the darkness of hidden secrets of the past. Rachel, our main character, is drawn to a monument that the entire town seems bent on not talking about. Set in New Jersey, this small town full of secrets would not be out of place in the Deep South. Full of secrets and people insisting that “you should let things alone” it is no wonder that our lead is drawn into the history that combines the town’s past, her own, and perhaps even threatens the future she is so carefully trying to create.
Based on a true story, this is an excellent start for author Maryann McFadden to dip her toes into historical fiction. There is less time spent in the historical aspect and more time in the contemporary. While the search for the details of the case seems to be a bit too easy, I can understand how the fiction part of this can lend itself to an easier time. It would be a falt book if Rachel had to stop her search due to a fire or a flooded basement as many historians or genealogy researchers have had to do. This book brings up a lot of things that readers may find hard to read about but giving a voice to many college freshmen who find themselves victims during their first year is refreshing. It is nice to see that the women are seen as victims instead of fallen women. The push for mental health help is also refreshing in historical fiction where often the best path to relief is to seek revenge.
Even though it touches on several sensitive subjects, I would recommend this to readers who love contemporary fiction and are interested in historical fiction. There is very little that readers will need to know ahead of time, and the author does a great job of not only working explanations into the story line but also showing much of the details.
*This eBook was provided by Three Women Press 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*
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*
Arriving at his fifth school in as many years, a diplomat's son, Osei Kokote, knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day so he's lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can't stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players - teachers and pupils alike - will never be the same again.
The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970's suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practice a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Peeking over the shoulders of four 11 year olds Osei, Dee, Ian, and his reluctant girlfriend Mimi, Tracy Chevalier's powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.~Goodreads Blurb
This is my third of the Hogarth Retellings and so far this has to be the one that I’m not so keen on. I enjoy author Tracy Chevalier’s other work but I felt that this one fell a bit short. Now that could easily be my own personal bias. I’ve read and seen this play many times and written at least 10 different papers on Othello and its characters. So I know the story front ways and back. After just reading the blurb, I was unsure of how they would manage to fit all the adult or at least young adult themes into a 6th grader’s day. I’m still not convinced that it all fits quite so nicely.
There always is the a struggle when you write about children for a more adult audience that you don’t want to make them too dumb and naive and yet you don’t wish to age them beyond their years. I feel like that was the real issue that I struggled with throughout this story. Every time I started getting into the story, I would pull myself back and remember that they are only 11 years old. There is a lot going on in this story that I feel would have been better suited to a slightly older group even if they were freshman in high school. It just seemed odd and off-putting to have these strong emotions and passions in 11-year-olds. The story was well written, though it could have used a bit more length. It’s no Hag-Seed and while I will pass it off to other Shakespeare readers, I won’t be asking for my copy back.
Through Migizi’s life, we experience a glimpse of every Indigenous life lived in Canada. Set from 1918 to the 1960s, Migizi survives the abuses of residential schools and tries to live life as a Canadian. He joins the army and becomes a war hero only to return to a country that barely tolerates his existence. His bravery and perseverance is unwavering until he is forced to face his greatest fears. Will he survive his own demons and memories? Would any of us?~Goodreads Blurb
Often times here in the States, we view Canada as this sort of Ice Utopia, very cold with violent hockey players but universal healthcare and better equality. When talking with some of my Canadian friends however they mentioned that just like America likes to hide some of its sordid past, Canada has its own history that it isn't proud of. One large example has to be Canada’s relationship with its First Nation or Native Americans (First Peoples.)
By focusing on one man out of the many who struggled through the system Canada put them through, author Baron Alexander Deschauer gives his audience an unique view into this world that people may not have noticed happening around them. We get to see Migizi grow up and try to live his life while life seems to be doing its darndest to hold him back from any real progress. While I can’t say it was a pleasant read, I do think it was definitely a necessary one. I would have liked more, I’m not sure what more, but at only 180 pages I can’t help but feel that there was more to share. I would recommend this book for people who are interested in Canadian History and First Nations HIstory. It was an easy read but like I said it isn't a happy feel good story, nor should it be.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and FriesenPress in exchange for honest feedback*
Despite Chicago's location beside the world’s largest source of fresh water, its low elevation at the end of Lake Michigan provided no natural method of carrying away waste. As a result, Chicago began to choke on its own sewage collecting near the shore. The befouled environment, giving rise to outbreaks of sickness and cholera, became so acute that even the ravages and costs of the American Civil War did not distract city leaders from taking action.
Chesbrough's solution was an unprecedented tunnel five feet in diameter lined with brick and dug sixty feet beneath Lake Michigan. Construction began from the shore as well as the tunnel’s terminus in the lake. With workers laboring in shifts and with clay carted away by donkeys, the lake and shore teams met under the lake three years later, just inches out of alignment. When it opened in March 1867, observers, city planners, and grateful citizens hailed the tunnel as the "wonder of America and of the world."~Goodreads Blurb
For such a simple seeming project, taking water from over there and bringing it over here, there have to be a million ways this could have ended badly. Author Benjamin Sells has not only done the hard labour of discovering all this information but also the dauntless task of putting it together in a way that makes it readable for the average reader, rather than simply a history book for engineers. I wouldn’t be able to repeat the feat with justs this book but I feel like I could hold my own in a conversation, thanks to Sells’ hard work.
I don’t often find myself singing the praises of non-fiction books because they can be too dry or you have authors who feel they must include every single fact to justify learning it. I feel like if I had been a Chicago resident some of the names might have made more sense so I have to take my own personal ignorance into account when I have questions. I would have enjoyed a bit about what strides were being made in similar problems during this time but what was given was plenty. The balance between storytelling and factual drive was well balanced and I can only hope that other readers will feel the same way.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and NorthWestern University Press in exchange for honest feedback*
A gorgeous, deft literary retelling of Charlotte Bronte's beloved Jane Eyre--through the eyes of the dashing, mysterious Mr. Rochester himself.
"Reader, she married me."
For one hundred seventy years, Edward Fairfax Rochester has stood as one of literature's most romantic, most complex, and most mysterious heroes. Sometimes haughty, sometimes tender-professing his love for Jane Eyre in one breath and denying it in the next-Mr. Rochester has for generations mesmerized, beguiled, and, yes, baffled fans of Charlotte Brontë's masterpiece. But his own story has never been told. ~Goodreads Blurb
Just as I have always been interested in the the women of history who names have been nearly forgotten, often times I am interested in the leading men’s point of view. I thought I had gotten my fill of Eddie Rochester from “Wide Sargasso Sea” but instead it looks like there is room in my library for two different sides of young Rochester. Unlike many of the readers I noticed reviewing, “Jane Eyre” is not the be all and end all for me. It was a fun book to read and it left me with many questions that I found uncomfortable asking my parents about. When you’re 10-11, you don’t want a lecture about good versus bad, anti-hero and the like, you just want a solid answer. I couldn’t find one so I moved on.
Author Sarah Shoemaker did a great job of answering some of those questions I had. Some mysteries were solved and some answers were given. You know the basic formula of how everything will work out but instead of being bored to tears and pushing on for the sake of a “read” label, I found myself intrigued by how she would wrap everything together. While it isn't a perfectly wrapped package, the love for it is there and you can tell a great deal of work went into this. So if you enjoy Jane Eyre and are open to having someone else climb into your prize sandbox, then I recommend you give it a go. If you have Bronte on an altar and consider every word law, then perhaps just re-read “Jane Eyre.”
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing in exchange for honest feedback*
It is the spring of 1527. Henry VIII has come to Hever Castle in Kent to pay court to Anne Boleyn. He is desperate to have her. For this mirror of female perfection he will set aside his Queen and all Cardinal Wolsey’s plans for a dynastic French marriage.
Anne Boleyn is not so sure. She loathes Wolsey for breaking her betrothal to the Earl of Northumberland’s son, Harry Percy, whom she had loved. She does not welcome the King’s advances; she knows that she can never give him her heart.
But hers is an opportunist family. And whether Anne is willing or not, they will risk it all to see their daughter on the throne…~Goodreads Blurb
Too often literature focuses its attention on Anne Boleyn as a conniving woman, or as a witch who tricked the King into marriage. There are some who choose to look at her through her daughter’s eyes and see a woman who was torn away from her daughter. Her time spent in the courts of others is usually just a brief mention in order to hurry her along into the arms of Henry the Eighth. I really appreciate the way author Alison Weir has taken the time to show the path that was taken before she became the notorious Queen that we most know her as. But instead of following up with this idea of a woman doing what she had to for her family and for her own survival, it seems strange that it instead slips into a strange world where some of our prominent men are rapists,though this was never proven, and other obviously fictional and unnecessary elements were added in order to make the story more interesting.
I understand that with such a well-written subject it can become difficult to write anything new about the story, I enjoyed the story of her youth and the interesting views of some of the other strong women in her life. It only seems like Weir seems to slip into a caricature of Boleyn that seems old and outdated. This made the book a toss-up for me. On the one hand I enjoyed the new look at young Anne but when she comes of age, she becomes the villain again. It seems to be a very strange route to take. This is going to be one of those books that you will either really enjoy or won’t be able to finish. I finish them in order to be fair but I know many don’t have that requirement.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Ballantine Books in exchange for honest feedback**
The thrilling tale of Sherlock Holmes’ daughter and her companion Dr. John Watson Jr. as they investigate a murder at the highest levels of British society from the USA Today bestselling author.
1910. Joanna Blalock’s keen mind and incredible insight lead her to become a highly-skilled nurse, one of the few professions that allow her to use her finely-tuned brain. But when she and her ten-year-old son witness a man fall to his death, apparently by suicide, they are visited by the elderly Dr. John Watson and his charming, handsome son, Dr. John Watson Jr. Impressed by her forensic and deductive skills, they invite her to become the third member of their deductive team.
Caught up in a Holmesian mystery that spans from hidden treasure to the Second Afghan War of 1878-1880, Joanna and her companions must devise an ingenious plan to catch a murderer in the act while dodging familiar culprits, Scotland Yard, and members of the British aristocracy. Unbeknownst to her, Joanna harbors a mystery of her own. The product of a one-time assignation between the now dead Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler, the only woman to ever outwit the famous detective, Joanna has unwittingly inherited her parents’ deductive genius.
One of my favorite things about the older mystery novel is the comradery between the detectives and their companions. Whether it be Sherlock and Watson or Poirot and Hasting, there is always this sort of master and apprentice relationship going on. “The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes,” has made the irksome decision to throw a bit of romance into it. Coupling that with the name-dropping of familiar names and it becomes quite clear who the baddies are and what happened even by chapter 4 entitled “Christopher Moran.” There might have been a slight mystery around who Joanna Blalock might be if the book wasn’t called “The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes.”
Throughout the entire book, all of the characters seemed to be the children of Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters. The ones that weren’t, simply were there to be discredited or move the story along. I suppose this would be a good book for a younger set that may not have read the Sherlock Stories but for someone who enjoys the stories in their original and the more modern counterparts, this story felt like a mimic of the originals.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Minotaur Books in exchange for honest feedback*
Freelance Editor & Reviewer