Sophia, 17, and her younger sister Kate, 15, are desperate to leave their horrific orphanage. Orphans, unwanted and unloved, they nonetheless dream of coming of age elsewhere, of finding a better life, even if that means living on the streets of the brutal city of Ashton.
Sophia and Kate, also best friends, have each other’s backs—and yet they want different things from life. Sophia, a romantic, more elegant, dreams of entering court and finding a noble to fall in love with. Kate, a fighter, dreams of mastering the sword, of battling dragons, and becoming a warrior. They are both united, though, by their secret, paranormal power to read other’s minds, their only saving grace in a world that seems bent to destroy them.
As they each embark on a quest and adventure their own ways, they struggle to survive. Faced with choices neither can imagine, their choices may propel them to the highest power—or plunge them to the lowest depths. ~Goodreads Blurb
Two sisters both so alike in their gift and yet so different in their dreams. They both long to be safe and happy, but the forms that these take will send them on an adventure that neither of them could imagine leaving the House of the Unclaimed. From the streets to the palace, Sophia longs to win safety in the halls of the most decadent, but will she aim too high and fall back to earth? Kate, the youngest, wants to be able to protect her self at all costs, but will her drive for strength and power cost her dearly?These two sisters, trapped in a life of servitude due to their status of Unclaimed, have been blessed by the gift of being able to read minds of those around them. For all their abilities, there seems to be little understanding of why this is such a scary thing. For some, the mind is their only safe place. These girls use their gifts to lie, steal, and con their way in life. Yet for all the lying, stealing, and barefaced treachery you can’t help hoping that one of them will catch a break.
Author Morgan Rice started this new series after the success of her series The Sorcerer’s Ring(a 17 book series.) Currently planned as a six book series, I have to wonder at why the story was broken up into such chunks. With each book under 200 pages, it is surprising that it was decided that stretching 6 books from what could easily be a nice trilogy was the way to go. After coming to the end of book 1, I felt cheated. The storyline just stopped. It was as if someone had simply taken the story and lifted off the first 186 pages. The story is nice and you get to the meat of the story pretty quickly, with the barest of world-building slapped on. It is an easy read and I would recommend giving them a read. My word of advice on this one though is to grab the second book so you don’t feel robbed. I am currently reading the second in the series, though if it drops me again at the end, I will not be carrying on. I am a great lover of cliffhangers but not a fan of books that simply stop. Fingers crossed for the second.
*This eBook was provided by Kobe Writing Life and NetGalley in exchange for honest feedback*
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*
As the First World War rages in continental Europe, two New York heiresses, Sydney and Brooke Sinclair, are due to set sail for England. Brooke is engaged to marry impoverished aristocrat Edward Thorpe-Tracey, the future Lord Northbrook, in thewedding of the social calendar. Sydney has other adventures in mind; she is drawn to the burgeoning suffragette movement, which is a constant source of embarrassment to her proper sister. As international tempers flare, the German embassy releases a warning that any ships making the Atlantic crossing are at risk. Undaunted, Sydney and Brooke board the Lusitaniafor the seven-day voyage with Edward, not knowing that disaster lies ahead.
In London, Isabel Nelson, a young woman grateful to have escaped her blemished reputation in Oxford, has found employment at the British Admiralty in the mysterious Room 40. While she begins as a secretary, it isn’t long before her skills in codes and cyphers are called on, and she learns a devastating truth and the true cost of war.
As the days of the voyage pass, these four lives collide in a struggle for survival as the Lusitania meets its deadly fate. ~Goodreads Blurb
It may seem a silly thing to remind one’s self of but there is a reason that historical fiction has a basic formula. The past has already been written and we are all just trying to fill in the blanks. Many Americans know that the sinking of the Lusitania was the catalyst for the American entrance into WW1 but I was surprised by how much I didn’t know. I suppose that the Titanic overshadows many stories about sinking ships these days. Once I had found myself caring about our lead characters, I have to admit I sort of cheated. Instead of finishing the book to find the answer, I ran to Wikipedia. My biggest fear was that it would read, “No Survivors.”
I think that shows a strength in the author's storytelling skills, that I could not wait until the end. What does that say about me? Well, I never really cared for surprises anyways. Some of my fellow reader/reviewers have dinged the author for carrying on too many storylines. I have to admit that there were times that I didn’t really care for one of them and I kept waiting to get back to the boat. Yet I understand the importance of the multiple storylines, even if they all didn’t collide as I would have liked. I would recommend this to those who like light romantic historical fiction and don’t mind love triangles too much.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and HarperCollins in exchange for honest feedback*
All sixteen-year-old Tommin wants is to make beautiful shoes and care for his beloved granny, but his insatiable need to steal threatens to destroy everything. Driven by a curse that demands more and more gold, he’s sure to get caught eventually.
When mysterious Lorcan Reilly arrives in town with his “niece,” Eve, Tommin believes the fellow wants to help him. Instead, Lorcan whisks him off to the underground realm of the Leprechauns, where, alongside Eve, he’s forced to prepare to become one of them.
As Lorcan’s plans for his “gold-children” are slowly revealed, Tommin and Eve plan their escape. But with Tommin’s humanity slipping away, the fate-crossed pair has everything to lose unless they can find a way to outsmart a magical curse centuries in the making.~Goodreads Blurb
An interesting twist on the leprechaun mythos and a couple of relatable characters really made this book for me. It was a different take on leprechauns than I had previously seen and it really worked. The first half learning all about the backstory and the world building really worked for me though I would have been more interested in Eve’s version. It was really intriguing to see the political maneuvers and the basic back stabbings of that world. If the story had continued like that it would have been great. I made it halfway expecting this kid to find his place and finally accept himself instead Part 2 happened.
The second half threw me. It felt jumbled and not really fitting with the back of the book or even the front half of the book. It’s hard to really sink into a book that tries so hard to throw you. Between the shift in location and time to the really unnecessary love story I lost interest in the characters. I kept hoping that the end would save the story but for me, I would say it’s a quick read and it isn’t a bad read. It just isn’t a book that I would reread in a hurry. It might really work for some readers and I won’t judge you for that. It just isn’t for me.
In the industrial 1860s at the dawn of the Carnegie empire, Irish immigrant Clara Kelly finds herself in desperate circumstances. Looking for a way out, she seeks employment as a lady's maid in the home of the prominent businessman Andrew Carnegie. Soon, the bond between Clara and her employer deepens into love. But when Clara goes missing, Carnegie's search for her unearths secrets and revelations that lay the foundation for his lasting legacy. With captivating insight and stunning heart, Carnegie's Maid tells the story of one lost woman who may have spurred Andrew Carnegie's transformation from ruthless industrialist into the world's first true philanthropist~Goodreads Blurb
A forbidden love between an employer and his employee can only end a few ways: badly, sadly, or very rarely, happily ever after. This follows the tale of a poor Irish girl who came to create a new life for herself and yet found herself slipping into someone else's life. She is pretending and yet at the same time feels more like who she should be. She has to find a way to retain her old self and this new girl that she is turning into. Throw into that the fact that she is falling for her employer and it is a bit of fun in old Pittsburgh.
Though I loved seeing a historical industrial fiction story away from NYC, I have to say that this was a bit unfair of Maire Benedict. She gave us a great beginning and strong middle and it seemed that the end was scooped together to wrap things up. We see barely any of the actual searchings for Clara, though it seems to be a massive catalyst for Carnegie's life. It goes from her leaving to the Epilogue. There seems to be a massive gap that the Epilogue tries to smooth over and yet I am left holding my hands out for those missing chapters. Perhaps there is hope for a sequel or another excerpt that will draw things tighter together and pad out a strange ending. If you enjoy Industrial Age historical fiction, this is a great choice. There is romance, class, opera, and fashion all wrapped together with "current" events. It evokes the period without dunking your head in a bucket of straight history.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark*
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*
`Crime never changes. Punishment does.
In a time when prisons no longer contain inmates behind concrete and steel, the convicted serve their time while asleep, rehabilitating in virtual reality while blissfully unaware of their crimes.
Roger Parker is a professional prison breaker, skilled at navigating these strange penal dream worlds and extracting those imprisoned there—for a price. Parker wants out of the game, but a powerful senator, desperate to save his son, convinces Parker to pull one last job. The clincher? An opportunity for Parker to find his wife, herself interned, lost somewhere in a treacherous, time-shifting Manhattan cyberscape.
As Parker and his team make their hallucinatory journey between worlds, memory and motive lose coherence and integrity, and the clock begins to run out: internal security detects the breaker, and sets out to remove him—permanently.
Unable to rely on his perceptions, unsure of the truth or even his very identity, will Parker break out . . . or be broken~Goodreads Blurb
Like looking at a Monet up close, this book resembles a beautiful mess. Then once you finish it and take a step back, you can see all the brushstrokes and plot twists come together to weave a wonderful story. There are just so many layers of this story, that you are drawn further and further in. When I read the blurb and started the story I kept stopping and going back. The story being told and the story I was reading didn’t seem to match. I kept waiting for Delaney to give up and stick to formula but it kept getting away from any box I put it in.
The sheer amount of world building can be overwhelming at first but once I was able to fit myself in, I was pulled into another layer of the details. The characters were a bit hit or miss but I found myself so drawn to the story that I didn’t really care that much. The sheer futuristic concept of a reality prison and how to break people out is a refreshing concept and had just enough Twilight Zone feel to it to feel familiar and yet strangely different. If you enjoy being surprised (in a good way) by your books and you want a fun time, this is the book for you. My only suggestion would be to get rid of the book blurb and just go with “It’s really good...trust me.”
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and 47North in exchange for honest feedback*
Long overlooked in histories of finance, women played an essential role in areas such as banking and the stock market during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Yet their presence sparked ongoing controversy. Hetty Green's golden touch brought her millions, but she outraged critics with her rejection of domesticity. Progressives like Victoria Woodhull, meanwhile, saw financial acumen as more important for women than the vote. George Robb's pioneering study sheds a light on the financial methods, accomplishments, and careers of three generations of women. Plumbing sources from stock brokers' ledgers to media coverage, Robb reveals the many ways women invested their capital while exploring their differing sources of information, approaches to finance, interactions with markets, and levels of expertise. He also rediscovers the forgotten women bankers, brokers, and speculators who blazed new trails--and sparked public outcries over women's unsuitability for the predatory rough-and-tumble of market capitalism. Entertaining and vivid with details, Ladies of the Ticker sheds light on the trailblazers who transformed Wall Street into a place for women's work.~Goodreads Blurb
Since Occupy Wall Street has faded from our headlines and rarely do we mention the 99 vs the 1 percent, it was surprising to me how I had never noticed the role that the stock market and women’s role in investing had made in my life. Coming from a Conservative turned Independant background, I knew that I had always been suspicious of self made millionaires of the stock market. I always pictured them as men in ties with oily hair and too bright teeth. Men who gargle with Red Bull and shout into phones all day.
I suppose I never really thought about why the image in my head was always of men doing the job. Reading through this book “Ladies of the Ticker” I was brought up short by how much the past still affected the present and how we view gender roles in our stereotypes. It was very entertaining to see the women who busted those stereotypes but more enjoyable were the women who used the stereotypes against society.
This book is a bit heavy on the details and I would have enjoyed more human interest stories to balance out the straight facts. This would have made it longer and it would have felt more complete to me. As it is I feel as though there is more to learn and yet I am not sure of what direction to take. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy nonfiction and have an interest in women’s history.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and University of Illinois Press in exchange for honest feedback*
Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation is the first anthology to broadly collect solarpunk short stories, artwork, and poetry. A new genre for the 21st Century, solarpunk is a revolution against despair. Focusing on solutions to environmental disasters, solarpunk envisions a future of green, sustainable energy used by societies that value inclusiveness, cooperation, and personal freedom.
Edited by Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Christopher Wieland, Sunvault focuses on the stories of those inhabiting the crucial moments when great change can be made by people with the right tools; stories of people living during tipping points, and the spaces before and after them; and stories of those who fight to effect change and seek solutions to ecological disruption.
This is one of those books that gave me a real warmth in my heart while reading it. I love a good dystopian fiction as much as the next English Major but there is just something so nice about Solarpunk. I have seen the criticism that it is too simple and not realistic enough. Add that to the ongoing discussions of race, class and religion and there have been some pretty solid brawls in regards to the group. My opinion is that while Solarpunk is a nice idea, it is important to continue to have these discussions. If you are exposed to only one view the world very quickly loses definition and a realness that becomes obvious in the writing. It doesn’t need to be utopian in order to be Solarpunk, there are still struggles and arguments that happen in these worlds. There is just such an overwhelming layer of hope as the bedrock of these stories and poetry that you can’t help but see these stories as the authors’ children.
One of the things that I find difficult about anthologies, is that they are made up of short stories. I have just enough time to get into a story and connect with the characters before they are ripped away from me by the turning of the pages. I hope that there is enough of an outpouring of desire for more Solarpunk stories that some of these characters come back for further adventures. Even though I was given this by Netgalley and the publishers I exchange for honest feedback, I will be looking for a copy for my coffee table.
Freelance Editor & Reviewer