Genre: Historical Fiction

Waiting on Wednesday – The Storms of War: A Novel by Kate Williams

September 2, 2015 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Storms of War: A Novel by Kate WilliamsThe Storms of War: A Novel by Kate Williams
Published by Pegasus Books on September 15th 2015
Pages: 528
Genres: Historical Fiction, WWI
Format: Hardcover
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For fans of Atonement, Birdsong, and Downton Abbey, the first of three novels about a privileged British family enduring the trials of World War I, from New York Times bestselling author Kate Williams.

In the idyllic early summer of 1914, life is good for the de Witt family. Rudolf and Verena are planning the wedding of their daughter Emmeline, while their eldest son, Arthur, is studying in Paris, and Michael is just back from his first term at Cambridge. Celia, the youngest of the de Witt children, is on the brink of adulthood and secretly dreams of escaping her carefully mapped-out future and exploring the world.

But the onslaught of war changes everything and soon the de Witts find themselves sidelined and in danger of losing everything they hold dear. As Celia struggles to make sense of the changing world around her, she lies about her age to join the war effort and finds herself embroiled in a complex plot that puts not only herself but those she loves in danger.

With gripping detail and brilliant empathy, Kate Williams tells the story of Celia and her family as they are shunned by a society that previously embraced them, torn apart by sorrow, and buffeted and changed by the storms of war.

About Kate Williams

Kate studied her BA at Somerville College, Oxford where she was a College Scholar and received the Violet Vaughan
Morgan University Scholarship. She then took her MA at Queen Mary, University of London and her DPhil at Oxford, where she received a graduate prize. She also took an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway.

This first caught my eye when it was being published in the UK only so I was happy to stumble upon release information for the US! Anything Downton related I’m a total sucker for but add in my love of Atonement and I’m all over this.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

dvd-pearl

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

September 1, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Read in 2015, Release Day Feature 35 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Girl Waits with Gun by Amy StewartGirl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on September 1st 2015
Pages: 416
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Goodreads

Also by this author: Lady Cop Makes Trouble, Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions, Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit

three-half-stars

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.

Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared.

About Amy Stewart

Amy Stewart is the author of seven books. Her latest, Girl Waits With Gun, is a novel based on a true story. She has also written six nonfiction books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world, including four New York Times bestsellers: The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Bugs, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential. She lives in Eureka, California, with her husband Scott Brown, who is a rare book dealer. They own a bookstore called Eureka Books. The store is housed in a classic nineteenth-century Victorian building that Amy very much hopes is haunted.

He looked up and said, in a loud, plain voice, “She’s not a regular lady.”

Indeed, Constance Kopp was quite a woman for her time. Constance Amelie Kopp was born in 1878 and as an adult was recorded as being six feet tall. Yes, Constance Kopp was a real-life woman and is credited as being one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs. Little is known of the women but what is known paints a most interesting picture. Amy Stewart gathered as much information as she could and the necessary enrichment truly brought her and the people associated with her to being. Girl Waits With a Gun starts off Constance’s story with a buggy accident involving her and her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, in 1914. The individual responsible for causing the damage and irreversibly damaging their mode of transportation, was one Henry Kaufman, a wealthy silk factory owner. Constance sends him repeated notices of the amount of damage he is responsible for, $50, and when he fails to respond to her goes to collect from him personally. This sets off a long year of harrassment from Kaufman and his associates where they suffer through having bricks thrown through their windows at night to letters threatening to kidnap their youngest sister Fleurette and sell her into white slavery. Not willing to lay down and accept this, Constance goes to the police with the hope that she can put her trust in them to put a stop to the menace in their lives.

Girl Waits With a Gun was an unexpected delight for me but was much more slower paced than I would have figured. I went into this expecting some sort of crime fiction with a historical flair being that it’s set in 1914. This was decidedly less focused on the crime itself but of Constance and of the story behind her becoming a deputy sheriff, and how it was nothing but a complete accident. This story leaned more towards  historical-fiction/cozy mystery territory but is unmistakably the smartest story of the genre I’ve read. It took me a solid week to read this and while I had to pace myself, I never lost any interest in this charming tale.

Constance-KoppConstance was a fantastic character and imaginably a remarkable individual in her own right. On Amy Stewart’s website she lists a quote from Constance where she said: “Some women prefer to stay at home and take care of the house. Let them. There are plenty who like that kind of work enough to do it. Others want something to do that will take them out among people and affairs. A woman should have the right to do any sort of work she wants to, provided she can do it.” That was the kind of woman she was, one who refused to fall into typical social expectations of the time. In her earlier years she expressed an interest in pursuing a career, as a lawyer or a nurse, but her mother inevitably discouraged that and kept her at home. The story touches briefly and only occasionally on her past when she was around eighteen years old and what truly molded her into the woman she is today. While I loved her take no crap attitude in her mature years, I really loved seeing this younger part of her that was still coming into her own and learning the ways of the world. The situations she found herself in for that time may have been irreversible and life-changing but not only was she strong-willed but she had a supportive family to back her up. She was quite an inspiring individual and I do hope we haven’t seen the last of Constance Kopp.

“…if I could give her one silent gift […] – it would be this: the realization that we have to be a part of the world we live in. We don’t scurry away when we’re in trouble, or when someone else is. We don’t run and hide.”

Thanks to the wonderful individuals over at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, I have a copy to share with one lucky reader! I’ve decided to move away from Rafflecopter again and am opting to keep it simple: leave a comment expressing your interest in this story to enter!

This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents and will end on September 15th, 2015.

Good luck!

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Book Tour Review – Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

August 21, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2015, TLC Book Tours 3 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – Crooked Heart by Lissa EvansCrooked Heart: A Novel by Lissa Evans
Published by Harper on July 28th 2015
Pages: 288
Genres: Historical Fiction, WWII
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
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Also by this author: Old Baggage

four-half-stars

Paper Moon meets the Blitz in this original black comedy, set in World War II England, chronicling an unlikely alliance between a small time con artist and a young orphan evacuee.

When Noel Bostock—aged ten, no family—is evacuated from London to escape the Nazi bombardment, he lands in a suburb northwest of the city with Vera Sedge—a thirty-six-year old widow drowning in debts and dependents. Always desperate for money, she’s unscrupulous about how she gets it.

Noel’s mourning his godmother Mattie, a former suffragette. Wise beyond his years, raised with a disdain for authority and an eclectic attitude toward education, he has little in common with other children and even less with the impulsive Vee, who hurtles from one self-made crisis to the next. The war’s provided unprecedented opportunities for making money, but what Vee needs—and what she’s never had—is a cool head and the ability to make a plan.

On her own, she’s a disaster. With Noel, she’s a team.

Together, they cook up a scheme. Crisscrossing the bombed suburbs of London, Vee starts to make a profit and Noel begins to regain his interest in life. But there are plenty of other people making money out of the war—and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn’t actually safe at all. . . .

Noel, a ten year old boy, has been raised by his eccentric, ex-suffragette godmother Mattie. In addition to his normal schooling, Mattie always took the time to give what she referred to as “proper schooling” which included discussions on the obscure and essay topics that gave you more reasons to think such as “What Is Freedom?” and “All Things are Difficult Before They Are Easy”. Mattie imbued in him her particular understanding of the world causing him to develop the most intriguing personality making him an immediate addition to my favorite quirky children in literature shelf. In addition to the impending war causing the residents of London and its outskirts to be constantly on their toes, Noel is attempting to handle the seriousness of Mattie’s decline into senile dementia. Instead of evacuating London with the rest of the children, he opts to stay with Mattie to take care of her knowing that soon she’s not going to be able to take care of him much longer let alone herself. The introduction of Noel and Mattie is fantastically succinct and encompasses the Prologue alone. It set an amazing tone and heightened expectations for the rest of the story. I’m so very pleased to say that it never disappointed and only continued to impress me.

‘The day after that, all the children disappeared, as if London had shrugged and the small people had fallen off the edge.’

On a particularly typical yet cold Winter night, Mattie decides to take a walk and doesn’t come back home. Noel is now forced into evacuating and he’s rounded up with several other children hoping to find families willing to take in another mouth to feed. Noel comes across as a shy, silent child but is actually in very deep mourning for the one person on this earth he truly loved.

‘Reading felt effortful. It was odd to think that for years he had sucked up print without thinking. Since leaving Mattie’s house, he hadn’t finished a book. He couldn’t follow a plot any more, the meaning seemed to bypass his brain, or else stuck to it briefly and then fell off when he turned the page, like an inadequately licked stamp.’

He finds himself taken in by a middle-aged woman named Vee, for the sole reason of the money she’s able to collect for taking him into her care. Right off the bat, her intentions aren’t honorable, but considering Noel is never mistreated or anything of the like, she’s easily forgiven. Vee’s son Donny has a heart problem and is unable to contribute financially and her mother is unable to speak following an incident where she collapsed and hit her head after Vee first told her she was pregnant (and un-wed). Drastic times call for drastic measures and Vee begins grasping for any possible way to earn enough money to help her household survive. This is how she comes up with the idea of going door to door for donations, except there is no charity awaiting her collected coin; it’s going straight into her own pocket. Noel, wrapped in the comfort of his mourning, regains a spark of life when he recognizes Vee’s actions for what they are subsequently intriguing him enough to offer to help. He comes up with a better plan and together, the unlikeliest of duos use the War as an opportunity to survive.

 I really paced myself with this one, knowing early on it was going to be hard to say goodbye to this vibrant and original cast of characters. For a book that I picked up simply because it was related to World War II, it had surprisingly little to do with the actual war. It was rather a behind the scenes type look on what you would expect to encounter during wartime but never quite earns its own story. I loved how the story delves into what’s morally right after the duo uncover a crime occurring where people’s belongings are being stolen after they are forced to evacuate. Even though they are collecting for a charity that doesn’t actually exist, these people are still giving willingly. Crooked Heart asks the question: is it better to take under false pretenses or to steal without their knowledge? Is one legally wrong and the other simply morally wrong?

Crooked Heart, while also delving into the seriousness of war without going as far as to take us to the battle lines, is also instilled with a dark humor that I feel is most appropriate for that day and age. Because even though there is sadness that is saturated into every nook and cranny and hangs over the city like a pall, there’s still some humor to be found and Evans characters use it as a coping mechanism to get through these trying times. Wonderful, wonderful novel, I’m so very glad I took the chance on this obscure little gem of a read.

dvd-pearl

This post was a part of ‘Crooked Heart’ blog tour.
Check out the other tour stops below!

Tuesday, July 28th: 100 Pages a Day … Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Wednesday, July 29th: BookNAround
Thursday, July 30th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, July 31st: From the TBR Pile
Monday, August 3rd: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, August 4th: Savvy Verse & Wit
Wednesday, August 5th: A Bookworm’s World
Thursday, August 6th: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, August 10th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Wednesday, August 12th: Cold Read
Tuesday, August 18th: Kissin Blue Karen
Wednesday, August 19th: FictionZeal
Wednesday, August 19th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Thursday, August 20th: Bilbiophiliac
Friday, August 21st: For the Love of Words
Monday, August 24th: Doing Dewey

tlc logodvd-pearl

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Waiting on Wednesday – Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

July 22, 2015 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday, YA 9 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Salt to the Sea by Ruta SepetysSalt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Philomel on February 9th 2016
Pages: 400
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover
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The author of Between Shades of Gray returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war's most devastating—yet unknown—tragedies.

In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Told in alternating points of view, and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr's Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See, Erik Larson's critically acclaimed #1 New York Times bestseller Dead Wake, and Elizabeth Wein's Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff--the greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.

This tragedy of WWII is definitely unknown to me and I anxiously await Ruta’s brilliant storytelling to bring this to life.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

dvd-pearl

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Book Review – Lion Heart (Scarlet #3) by A.C. Gaughen

June 25, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 2 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Lion Heart (Scarlet #3) by A.C. GaughenLion Heart by A.C. Gaughen
Series: Scarlet #3
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 19th 2015
Pages: 352
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Scarlet, Lady Thief

two-stars

The eagerly-awaited conclusion to the Scarlet trilogy delivers another action-packed and romance-filled adventure.

Scarlet has captured the hearts of readers as well as the heart of Robin Hood, and after ceaseless obstacles and countless threats, readers will finally find out the fate of the Lady Thief.

Imprisoned by Prince John for months, Scarlet finds herself a long way from Nottinghamshire. After a daring escape from the Prince's clutches, she learns that King Richard's life is in jeopardy, and Eleanor of Aquitaine demands a service Scarlet can't refuse: spy for her and help bring Richard home safe. But fate—and her heart—won't allow her to stay away from Nottinghamshire for long, and together, Scarlet and Rob must stop Prince John from going through with his dark plans for England. They can not rest until he's stopped, but will their love be enough to save them once and for all?

Scarlet series

Scarlet (Scarlet #1) by A.C. Gaughen {My Review}
Lady Thief (Scarlet #2) by A.C. Gaughen {My Review}

I’ve been quite the black sheep when it comes to the series as a whole so I might as well go out with a bang. I did not like this one. At all. There wasn’t anything seriously wrong with it, however, it was extremely uneventful and didn’t go out with the bang and/or explosive finale that I was kind of hoping for this whole time. Throwing a wrench in the whole Robin Hood tale by transforming Marian into one of the gang was definitely cause for excitement but the story itself continued much on the same trodden path and inevitably failed to live up to its potential. So, let’s break down my issues with this installment.

THERE BE SPOILERS.

Scarlet continued to be problematic for me. I’ve gotten past her strange dialect, mostly because it’s not as prevalent considering Eleanor has “taught” her how to talk like a lady even though we all know she’s completely capable of it. She has to begin talking like a lady again because her father, King Richard has given her a bit of land thus making her Lady Huntington. The entirety of the story consists of Scarlet going all “oh woe is me” about nobody liking her. What? She acted as if people were constantly shooting spit balls at her or something. It felt very out of character considering she’s supposed to be some thieving badass yet she’s whining because nobody likes her. Get over yourself, Charlie Brown Scarlet.

And then there’s Robin Hood. So many issues here. First off, the whole PTSD plotline seems to have found its way under a rug or something because it’s never made an issue again. Even though they have many nights sleeping next to each other. Apparently, the “love can heal” message the author was going for in Lady Thief actually worked. Ha. Right. Then there’s the magic trick performed where Robin turns into a spectacular douchebag right before your very eyes! Sure, one of those douchebag moments ended up being a momentary lapse but DUDE.

First DB moment: I don’t know if you recall but when Scarlet was married to Gisbourne, Robin could barely even kiss her because *gasp* she’s married. You know, against her will. To a sadist. And then there was the subtle mentioning of her basically being no longer pure because of said marriage that took place against her will in order to save Robin’s life. But then in this installment, he changes his tune. All those awful things are never mentioned and he acts shocked that Scarlet is ready and willing to marry him. Well, if I was a douchebag like that I guess I’d be shocked anyone wanted to be with me too.

Second DB moment: Scarlet was gifted lands which essentially gave her more power than the other douchebag of this tale, Prince John. It comes in handy when he tries to re-kidnap her for the “crimes” she was already pardoned for. Scarlet keeps this bit of information from Rob until she has to, and why? Well, if you recall, Robin was Earl of Huntingdon before the lands were taken from him. So his lands are now Scarlet’s, not that it should matter… but it does! He has the audacity to actually be pissed about it like she alone stole his land from him. This fucking guy. Way to make her feel bad about something completely beyond her control.

I’ve spent so much time complaining about those two I actually forgot the major reason Lion Heart was my least favorite installment: Prince John. In Lady Thief, John was still relatively villain-y however in this installment he reverted to his animated version.

He became such a non-villain and every time he was in a scene I imagined a toddler throwing a tantrum that didn’t get his way about something. He was a spoiled brat and it was just ridiculous that he still managed to almost best Scarlet and Robin. Eleanor really needed to slap the shit out of that boy though.

Another small issue was the strange side stories going on that were seemingly thrown in there for filler since they lacked any sort of resolution. Please do not tell me there’s going to be a spin-off. And that “ending”! I’m convinced my ARC was missing the final chapter because what is up with that lackluster and completely inadequate end? I mean come on, Sean Connery King Richard didn’t even make an appearance! Boooooooooooooooo.

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Book Review – Lady Thief (Scarlet #2) by A.C. Gaughen

May 29, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 5 Comments

Book Review – Lady Thief (Scarlet #2) by A.C. GaughenLady Thief by A.C. Gaughen
Series: Scarlet #2
Published by Walker Childrens on February 11th 2014
Pages: 321
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: Scarlet, Lion Heart

two-half-stars

Scarlet's true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet's love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet's past even she isn't yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman-a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin's cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet's tale will have readers talking once again.

Scarlet series

Book Review – Scarlet (Scarlet #1) by A.C. Gaughen

Scarlet (Scarlet #1) by A.C. Gaughen {PurchaseReview}

Someday. Definitely not in this installment though. Good grief, this was DARK. And sick. And just relatively hard to stomach. And here I was hoping to like this one more than the first installment when I actually think I liked this one less.

*spoilers from Scarlet will follow*

Lady Thief opens with Robin Hood suffering through the effects of the torture he had to endure leading him to him developing PTSD. On numerous occasions, Scarlet would wake in the night to find Robin in the throws of an attack, unaware of what he’s doing, but hurting her nonetheless. I understand that Robin isn’t doing any of these things maliciously but maybe sleeping next to him at night isn’t the wisest of choices? And then there’s the fact that Robin isn’t as apologetic as one would hope him to be. There was also the feeling that “love can heal” but Robin was clearly dealing with some serious mental issues at this point that would go beyond “love”. I’m well aware that there weren’t exactly psychologists during this period of time but the whole love heals message and use of PTSD as a plot-point just didn’t sit well with me. When she begins to blame herself for it all is where this one just about lost me completely. Adding to all that, Scarlet then agrees to pretend to be with Gisbourne in an attempt to get an annulment so that she and Robin can finally be together! But of course, Gisbourne is abusive too (the difference is he’s fully aware of what he’s doing) but at this point, Scarlet is transforming in my mind to Sansa and for fucks sake how much shit is this girl going to have to go through?

And since I brought up Game of Thrones, the newly introduced character of Prince John is an exact, spoiled replica of Joffrey.

He’s a horrible, miserable human being but Scarlet is determined to suffer through it all just as long as she can get that annulment. Which, seriously? Thievery is cool. Murder? Sure, why not. But heaven forbid you allow yourself to kiss the love of your life because you just so happened to be forced into marrying a sadist.

Morals. Whatever. Moving on.

Lady Thief is the second in a trilogy and suffers from middle-book-syndrome. The plot doesn’t consist of any forward-moving progression, choosing instead to focus on stuff like pain, torture, pain, and some more pain. Seriously, I don’t understand why Gisbourne was even still alive at this point since they were able to swiftly deal with the sheriff in the last installment. Would have saved everyone a whole lotta torture (and pain) if he just ceased to exist. And alas, that ending failed to hint at any happily ever after in the near future. I enjoyed the continued expansion on Scarlet’s backstory but this poor girl just can’t catch a break. Lion Heart is the final installment and last hope for a HEA… we’ll see if it actually happens.

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Book Review – Scarlet (Scarlet #1) by A.C. Gaughen

May 28, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 8 Comments

Book Review – Scarlet (Scarlet #1) by A.C. GaughenScarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Series: Scarlet #1
Published by Walker Childrens on June 7th 2012
Pages: 305
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Historical Fiction
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Lady Thief, Lion Heart

two-half-stars

Posing as one of Robin Hood's thieves to avoid the evil Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only Big John and Robin Hood know the truth-that the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. It's getting harder to hide as Gisbourne's camp seeks to find Scarlet and drive Robin Hood out of Nottinghamshire.

But Scarlet's instinct for self-preservation is at war with a strong sense of responsibility to the people who took her in when she was on the run, and she finds it's not so easy to turn her back on her band and townspeople. As Gisbourne draws closer to Scarlet and puts innocent lives at risk, she must decide how much the people of Nottinghamshire mean to her, especially John Little, a flirtatious fellow outlaw, and Robin, whose quick smiles and temper have the rare power to unsettle Scarlet. Full of exciting action, secrets, and romance, this imaginative retelling of the classic tale will have readers following every move of Robin Hood and band of thieves.

‘I do what I do because I will always believe that no matter how awful life gets for however many of these people, there is something I can do about it. There is something I will do about it.’

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I’m a huge fan of Robin Hood tales. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is one of my all-time favorite movies and never fails to give me the swoons. I mean come on, just look at those two.

*cue Bryan Adams*

When I first heard about this twisted retelling, I was a bit hesitant. I expected a love story and (hopefully) an interesting backstory leading up to how Scarlet became a member of Robin and his band of thieves and why she’s posing as a boy in the first place. There was definite potential there but my initial hesitation was dead-on seeing as I did not love this as most have.

In regards to Scarlet’s backstory, I really liked this aspect and somehow managed to not see the twist that was clearly coming from a mile away. But once all is revealed, there were some things that failed to add up for me. Primarily, her speech. She talks like Osha from Game of Thrones, it was ridiculous. It’s highly uneducated and once you realize who and what she actually is it begins to sound incredibly forced. I understand that speaking in such a way served only to put her in less of a spotlight and allows her to blend in with the village folk, however, if she was trying to stay out of the spotlight maybe she shouldn’t have constantly been taking so many highly unnecessary risks? She was constantly putting herself and the band in danger and after the first couple of times, I was ready to kick her out of the band myself. But the fighting was awesome and badass! Except… more things failed to add up. Like where Scarlet picked up those awesome fighting/knife skills. It couldn’t have all been self-preservation and learning on her own. There was zero mention of any of that and there should have been since her past would have never included any knowledge related to fighting/thievery.

And now for the love story. I’m sorry but… it irritated me.

While I’m fully aware that a love story happened in my previously mentioned favorite movie, this love story still managed to come off as completely ill-fitting. There just seemed to be entirely too much going between the Sheriff of Nottingham killing villagers and the new thief taker brought in from London for there to be a legit romance let alone a freaking love triangle. WITH JOHN LITTLE. I could have accepted the romance but the love triangle pushed me overboard. There was also the fact that I just didn’t swoon over these too as much as I would have liked. Then there were lines like this:

“You called me a whore, Rob. You said awful things.”
“Ah,” he said, and his hand took mine again, tight. “Hurting you is the best way I know how to punish myself.

Ha! Change of Robins. But seriously, I don’t even know where to begin with that line.

One last and final issue is the fact that this is a historical novel that failed to feel anything like a historical novel. I missed the detail and the feel of this medieval time period being brought to life. But this is definitely one of the smaller issues I had with this novel.

Scarlet was, unfortunately, a massive disappointment for me. I went into this one with high hopes and maybe that was the problem. It intrigued me enough to continue this series with the hope that it will improve.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Cleopatra’s Shadows by Emily Holleman

May 20, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Waiting on Wednesday 0 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Cleopatra’s Shadows by Emily HollemanCleopatra's Shadows by Emily Holleman
Published by Little Brown and Company on October 6th 2015
Pages: 384
Genres: Egypt, Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover
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Page-turning historical fiction that reimagines the beginnings of Cleopatra's epic saga through the eyes of her younger sister.

Before Caesar and the carpet, before Antony and Actium, before Octavian and the asp, there was Arsinoe.

Abandoned by her beloved Cleopatra and an indifferent father, young Arsinoe must fight for her survival in the bloodthirsty royal court when her half-sister Berenice seizes Egypt's throne. Even as the quick-witted girl wins Berenice's favor, a new specter haunts her days-dark dreams that have a habit of coming true.

To survive, she escapes the palace for the war-torn streets of Alexandria. Meanwhile, Berenice confronts her own demons as she fights to maintain power. When their deposed father Ptolemy marches on the city with a Roman army, both daughters must decide where their allegiances truly lie, and Arsinoe grapples with the truth, that the only way to survive her dynasty is to rule it.

About Emily Holleman

Emily Holleman is a Brooklyn-based writer. After a two-year editing stint at Salon.com where she had to worry a lot about politics, celebrities and memes, she returned to her true passion: fiction. She’s currently working on a set of historical novels that reimagines the saga of Cleopatra from the perspective of her younger sister, Arsinoe. The first of these, Cleopatra’s Shadows, will be published by Little, Brown in October 2015.

There are always stories about Cleopatra, it’s nice to get an unexpected story like this one. I’d never even heard of her younger sister so this one should be extremely interesting.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Waiting on Wednesday – Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure by Bonnie MacBird

May 13, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Waiting on Wednesday 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure by Bonnie MacBirdArt in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure by Bonnie MacBird
Published by Collins Crime Club on September 8th 2015
Pages: 400
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Sherlock
Format: Hardcover
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At a time when Sherlock Holmes is more popular than ever, a new story written in the whip smart style of Conan Doyle but with the ticking clock and fast pace that modern readers expect

It’s 1888. A perfumed letter featuring a doubly encoded message arrives at 221B Baker street London, a snowy December, 1888. A disastrous Ripper investigation has left 35-year-old Sherlock Holmes in a deep depression and back on cocaine. The newly married Watson is summoned urgently to 221B to rouse his friend. Nothing works until the arrival of an intriguing encoded letter from a beautiful French singer, Mlle. Emmeline La Victoire. Her illegitimate son Emil (with the famous art collector and humanitarian Earl of Pellingham) has disappeared and she fears him kidnapped, and she herself has been accosted in the street.As they travel to Paris to come to her aid, a larger picture is unveiled. This same untouchable Earl may well be behind the world’s largest art theft - the priceless Marseilles Nike - and additionally the disappearance and murder of several boys working in his own silk mills. Could he have harmed his own son as well? Holmes and Watson are tasked to solve the case and bring the culprit to justice.Before they can succeed, they must navigate a complex web including a treacherous French rival detective, Vidocq, who is in love with their client; Sherlock’s oddly threatening brother Mycroft, who has his own stake in the case; and a rising tide of murders which keep the true facts just out of reach. Can Sherlock Holmes overcome the weaknesses of his own “artistic nature” to save the beautiful singer and her son, and put away the real villain behind these many crimes?

About Bonnie MacBird

Bonnie MacBird is the original writer of the movie TRON, a multiple Emmy winning writer/producer, an accomplished watercolorist, and a classically trained actor. She is a regular speaker on writing, creativity, and Sherlock Holmes.

She lives in Los Angeles.

This one might not be authorized by Doyle’s estate like House of Silk proudly proclaimed to be, however, I’m still crazy anxious to read this one. MacBird is a professional Sherlock enthusiast and all I want to know is… how do you get that kind of job? Sign me up.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Early Review – The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh

May 8, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015, YA 3 Comments

I received this book free from First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Published by Putnam Juvenile on May 12th 2015
Pages: 416
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: First to Read Program
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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Also by this author: The Rose & the Dagger

four-half-stars

A sweeping and lush tale of romance and adventure

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch…she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, this sumptuous and epically told love story heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in YA.

‘It did not matter that this world was far from as simple as she might have thought.
And it absolutely did not matter that her heart was… mis-behaving.
She had come to the palace with a clear purpose.
The Caliph of Horasan had to die.’

Shahrzad, sixteen years old, has been battling with her grief since her best friend was murdered by her husband, Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, Caliph of Khorasan. For reasons unknown, he takes a bride each night only to have her killed in the morning. When Shahrzad actually volunteers to marry him, her family and childhood sweetheart, Tariq, are devastated. To everyone’s surprise, she survives the dawn and begins to put her plan into action: to find the weakness of the Caliph of Khorasan that will help her to avenge her murdered best friend. She begins to realize though that his only weakness is Shahrzad herself.

Reading has been a bit of a struggle for me lately and I tentatively started this one not expecting to be able to stick with it. I also had some serious doubts that it would end up being something that lived up to the hype for me, especially after recently reading another super-hyped story that ended up being a major disappointment for me. Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t stop flipping the pages, couldn’t stop wondering what was going to happen next, and couldn’t keep the ridiculous grin off my face watching all the emotions unfold. Oh man, the feels. They got me. For the most part, the story is told from the point of view of Shahrzad, however, we’re also given scenes through the eyes of Khalid and Tariq. All three points of view intertwine to form a most enthralling tale.

“As silver-tongued as a viper.” He laughed. “Tell me, my lady, do you ever miss a moment to strike?”
Shahrzad smiled, and it was brilliant and biting, all at once. “I fear that would be unwise, my lord. Especially in a den of snakes.”

I loved Shahrzad. She was wonderfully snarky and witty and courageous and bold. The addition in her story to being a prowess at the bow and arrow only sealed the deal to my love of her. I had my doubts at first that the story could pull off credibly Shahrzad falling in love with Khalid. I mean come on, she married her best friends murderer with the intent to kill him herself. How possibly could that be turned around legitimately? Well, I’m happy to say that it was done extremely well and I was completely sold. The passion between those two… that’s where that perma-grin I mentioned comes into play.

‘Her lips were hers one moment. And then they were his. The taste of him on her tongue was like sunwarmed honey. Like cool water sliding down her parched throat. Like the promise of all her tomorrows in a single sigh. When she wound her fingers in his hair to draw her body against his, he stilled for breath, and she knew, as he knew, that they were lost.
Lost forever.
In this kiss.
This kiss that would change everything.’

This could have easily been insta-love, but instead, it was a beautiful, slow and steady build up of honest emotion. It was a lovely thing to witness and I couldn’t tear my eyes away. Khalid even won me over at the same time. His pain and grief over what he felt he had to do, was his own personal suffering and it showed. I loved his own path to self-realization and how he became more confident in his roles and the decisions he had to make rather than sitting back and accepting his lot in life. I can’t wait to see how that continues in the next installment.

I had massive love for this book but there were a few aspects that could have made this better for me. First, I wanted to know more about Shahrzad’s family, especially her father, and there seems no doubt we’ll find out more in The Rose and the Dagger. The magical aspects of the novel were incredibly interesting and while I wished there was more of it, I appreciated the subtlety of it all. Second, Tariq’s character was a major low point and I disliked his point of view sections even if I can understand how necessary they were to see things from that aspect, to learn what all was being set in motion. Tariq is Shahrzad’s childhood sweetheart and while I get the whole “do whatever it takes to protect her” he got a bit manic about it, especially once he started realizing she was changing her mind about Khalid. He jumped to the conclusion that something was being done to her to make her change her typically immutable mind, which I get, but could have ultimately done without. Essentially I just wanted more kissy scenes. All the kissy scenes and all the swoons, please.

The Wrath and the Dawn is a wistful re-imagining of Arabian Nights with a forbidden romance that will leave you completely enchanted. I’m both eager and dreading the concluding story, The Rose and the Dagger, and desperately wishing for a satisfying ending that won’t leave my heart in tatters.

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