An incredible story of dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.
The year is 1739. Eliza Lucas is sixteen years old when her father leaves her in charge of their family's three plantations in rural South Carolina and then proceeds to bleed the estates dry in pursuit of his military ambitions. Tensions with the British, and with the Spanish in Florida, just a short way down the coast, are rising, and slaves are starting to become restless. Her mother wants nothing more than for their South Carolina endeavor to fail so they can go back to England. Soon her family is in danger of losing everything.
Upon hearing how much the French pay for indigo dye, Eliza believes it's the key to their salvation. But everyone tells her it's impossible, and no one will share the secret to making it. Thwarted at nearly every turn, even by her own family, Eliza finds that her only allies are an aging horticulturalist, an older and married gentleman lawyer, and a slave with whom she strikes a dangerous deal: teach her the intricate thousand-year-old secret process of making indigo dye and in return -- against the laws of the day -- she will teach the slaves to read.~Goodreads Blurb
All too often it is the Civil War that defines the South and its slaves. Set just before the revolutionary war, The Indigo Girl shows the life of the south before the war. You have all the usual antebellum tropes but there is an additional historical anchor in the rebellions and the Spanish freedom and subsequent re-enslavement of slaves in their colonies. On the surface, this is a fun strong girl taking over her father’s plantation to gain her own freedom.
It was the relationships between the slaves and the plantation owners that I found interesting. While the sheer idea of a “good” master makes me cringe, I couldn’t help but wish that the author's depiction of the masters was true. It definitely played on white guilt a bit. It was okay for them to be slaves because they were happy slaves and that sort of idea. It was hard to take seriously the abolitionist speak of equality and rights when all the while she owns slaves and makes her living off of their backs. The story was definitely painted in a good light and to dive to deeply into this story would do it no real good. As a light story about the transplant of indigo to South Carolina, it is a good story. As a story about master and slave relations, it falls short.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing in exchange for honest feedback*
When royal sleuth Georgie Rannoch receives a letter from her dearest friend Belinda, who’s in an Italian villa awaiting the birth of her illegitimate baby, she yearns to run to her side. If only she could find a way to get there! But then opportunity presents itself in a most unexpected way—her cousin the queen asks her to attend a house party in the Italian Lake Country. The Prince of Wales AND the dreadful Mrs. Simpson have been invited, and Her Majesty is anxious to thwart a possible secret wedding.
What luck! A chance to see Belinda, even if it is under the guise of stopping unwanted nuptials. Only that’s as far as Georgie’s fortune takes her. She soon discovers that she attended finishing school with the hostess of the party—and the hatred they had for each other then has barely dimmed. Plus, she needs to hide Belinda’s delicate condition from the other guests. And her dashing beau, Darcy is (naturally) working undercover on a dangerous mission. Then her actress mother shows up, with a not-so-little task to perform. With all this subterfuge, it seems something is bound to go horribly wrong—and Georgie will no doubt be left to pick up the pieces when it does.~Goodreads Blurb
It can feel a bit strange to find yourself reading the perfect summer read in the middle of winter, but that is where I found myself this past Winter Solstice. I was surprised, after I had finished, to learn that not only was it not the first in the series but that it was, in fact, the 11th of the series. I felt as if I knew these characters and parts of their past relationships. There was enough backstory to understand who they were but not enough to spoil any of the previous books.
It was lighthearted and yet focused on some interesting historical and societal norms of the times. The blending of historical fact and the creation of the author were so beautifully done it wouldn’t surprise me if the events had taken place. With strong multi-faceted characters and a well-written mystery, I am looking forward to adding the rest of the series to my TBR light reading lists.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Berkley Books in exchange for honest feedback*
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*
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*
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*
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 incredible true story of the young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium and their brave struggle for justice...
As World War I raged across the globe, hundreds of young women toiled away at the radium-dial factories, where they painted clock faces with a mysterious new substance called radium. Assured by their bosses that the luminous material was safe, the women themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered from head to toe with the glowing dust. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” were considered the luckiest alive—until they began to fall mysteriously ill. As the fatal poison of the radium took hold, they found themselves embroiled in one of America’s biggest scandals and a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights.~ Goodreads Blurb
During a time when often female physical complaints were brushed off or made to see as less than important, these women, these radium girls were ingesting a poison that was replacing the calcium in their bones and eating them away from the inside. Author Kate Moore has really outdone herself with this book. Well researched and yet far from dry, she paints the picture of these women who trusted their employers to keep them safe and paid for that with their lives. This book is definitely one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read. It shows the 1920s not as some hedonistic last bash before the Great Depression but real people with real lives. There are a whole slew of facts and interesting bits that I really want to learn more about, and I have to give kudos to Moore for being able to give all the facts and keep it from bogging down the story line or worse bogging down the reader. I would recommend this to people who are interested in the discovery of new science and its effects on the population of the time.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Sourcebooks in exchange for honest feedback**
Freelance Editor & Reviewer