Genre: Historical Fiction

Book Review – The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel (Sherlock Holmes #1) by Anthony Horowitz

December 18, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 3 Comments

Book Review – The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel (Sherlock Holmes #1) by Anthony HorowitzThe House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel by Anthony Horowitz
Series: Sherlock Holmes #1
Published by Mulholland Books on November 1, 2011
Pages: 304
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Sherlock
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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Also by this author: Moriarty

four-half-stars

For the first time in its one-hundred-and-twenty-five-year history, the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate has authorized a new Sherlock Holmes novel.

Once again, THE GAME'S AFOOT...

London, 1890. 221B Baker St. A fine art dealer named Edmund Carstairs visits Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson to beg for their help. He is being menaced by a strange man in a flat cap - a wanted criminal who seems to have followed him all the way from America. In the days that follow, his home is robbed, his family is threatened. And then the first murder takes place.

Almost unwillingly, Holmes and Watson find themselves being drawn ever deeper into an international conspiracy connected to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston, the gaslit streets of London, opium dens and much, much more. And as they dig, they begin to hear the whispered phrase-the House of Silk-a mysterious entity that connects the highest levels of government to the deepest depths of criminality. Holmes begins to fear that he has uncovered a conspiracy that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of society.

The Arthur Conan Doyle Estate chose the celebrated, #1 New York Times bestselling author Anthony Horowitz to write The House of Silk because of his proven ability to tell a transfixing story and for his passion for all things Holmes. Destined to become an instant classic, The House of Silk brings Sherlock Holmes back with all the nuance, pacing, and almost superhuman powers of analysis and deduction that made him the world's greatest detective, in a case depicting events too shocking, too monstrous to ever appear in print...until now.

‘Show Holmes a drop of water and he would deduce the existence of the Atlantic. Show it to me and I would look for a tap. That was the difference between us.’

In London, during the Autumn of 1890, Holmes and Watson are investigating a seemingly ordinary crime involving rare art and of course murder. Their investigation manages to take them far from the beaten path and propels them straight into a most horrific ongoing crime involving The House of Silk. They hit a brick wall being unable to find any useful information about it but both Holmes and Watson are unable to stop investigating, of course, even with the obvious danger they are putting themselves in by continuing to do so. Watson narrates the tale wonderfully, giving us insight into the quirks of Sherlock and the sheer brilliance of his mind. There are mysteries within mysteries in this story and the inevitable unraveling is truly the best part.

The House of Silk is the first installment in a new Holmes series written by Anthony Horowitz that has been sanctioned and commissioned by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Horowitz definitely has some big shoes to fill but his writing skills shine and Holmes and Watson feel as if they were never gone. I’m a huge fan of the original Conan Doyle stories and have always been leery of picking up the various pastiches out there; I’d much rather just read the originals. I took the risk once with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. The House of Silk was my second foray into Holmes pastiches and my luck continued. This was a fantastically faithful representation of everything I love about the originals, yet managed to add a level of excitement that I feel is sometimes missing from the classics. Horowitz did an honorable job of continuing the Sherlock legacy and these are well worth the read to all you Sherlock fans out there.

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Book Review – Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers

December 6, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 1 Comment

Book Review – Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFeversMortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #3
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on November 4th 2014
Pages: 444
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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Also by this author: Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, Courting Darkness

three-half-stars
In the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFever's New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.
She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.

His Fair Assassin Trilogy

Early Review – Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by R.L. LaFeversEarly Review – Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by R.L. LaFevers

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers {PurchaseMy Review}
Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin LaFevers {PurchaseMy Review}

‘We are all of us, gods and mortals, made up of many pieces, some of them broken, some of them scarred, but none of them the total sum of who we are.’

The final installment in His Fair Assassin trilogy introduces Annith who anxiously awaits the day when she’s sent out into the world to serve Mortain. She excels at all she does and can’t comprehend why she still remains at the convent until the day she overhears the abbess proclaim that Annith is to be trained to be the next Seeress. Refusing to be subjected to the role which would keep her locked within the convent until her dying day, Annith decides to take matters into her own hands and serve Mortain in her own way.

So. Mortal Heart. It was easily one of my most anticipated releases of the year because of how much I adored Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph both. The only accurate way I can describe how I felt about Mortal Heart is to pull a Kevin Sorbo and throw my head back and howl my disappointment.

It must be said though, that LaFevers writing remains spectacular and the historically relevant details are incorporated wonderfully into this tale of fiction and make for an interesting and informative tale. I mostly had an issue with Annith herself and found her to be far too impulsive in her decisions despite the fact that I knew where she was coming from in her decision to leave the convent. Almost the entire first half of the book was spent in first person with the intent to get to know Annith and her mindset but I had a dreadfully hard time staying interested. Once she finally does take the leap of faith to leave the convent to venture out on her own, it does pick up but the seemingly requisite male that these females must meet is introduced and as much as I liked the originality of this love interest he was still described as “breathtakingly handsome in a dark, almost broken way”. Queue the eye rolls. I was fine with Ismae and Sybella’s stories and their meeting of their men but I guess by the third time of the same sort of tale it was getting a little old. If any of these girls tales could have done without a romance I think it would have been Annith. I would have much preferred a story centered around her need to flee the convent and grow in character as a strong and independent female making a life for her own.

Setting aside my opinions on Annith, my primary issue with Mortal Heart is the slow and meandering plot that unfortunately never ends up amounting to much. It took me two weeks to read this and while I love a book you can read slowly and savor, it was instead a definite struggle to finish. Its two predecessors were packed to the gills with action and it was sorely missing in this installment. Add to that, the unexpected and decidedly picturesque ending missed the mark completely for me. View Spoiler »

As much as I hate to call this the worst installment, it’s still a trilogy I would highly recommend for the first two installments alone. If you’re a fan of action-packed historical novels with a cast of incredible women, do check this out.

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Waiting on Wednesday – A God in Ruins: A Novel by Kate Atkinson

November 5, 2014 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 6 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – A God in Ruins: A Novel by Kate AtkinsonA God in Ruins: A Novel by Kate Atkinson
Published by Little Brown and Company on May 26th 2015
Pages: 400
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Life After Life, Transcription

The thrilling sequel to Kate Atkinson's #1 bestseller Life After Life, "one of the best novels I've read this century" (Gillian Flynn).

Kate Atkinson's new novel tells the story of Ursula Todd's beloved younger brother Teddy - would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband, and father - as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge is facing the difficulties of living in a future he never expected to have. A GOD IN RUINS explores the loss of innocence, the fraught transition from the war to peace time, and the pain of being misunderstood, especially as we age.

Proving once again that Kate Atkinson is "one of the finest writers working today" (The Chicago Tribune), A GOD IN RUINS is the triumphant return of a modern master.

About Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and she has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since.

She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories, and One Good Turn.

Case Histories introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, and won the Saltire Book of the Year Award and the Prix Westminster.

When Will There Be Good News? was voted Richard & Judy Book Best Read of the Year. After Case Histories and One Good Turn, it was her third novel to feature the former private detective Jackson Brodie, who makes a welcome return in Started Early, Took My Dog.

Life After Life was brilliant and was easily one of my favorites of 2013. I never anticipated a sequel so this is most exciting!

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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Ominous October – Murder (Mayhem #2) by Sarah Pinborough

October 31, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Ominous October, Read in 2014 4 Comments

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

Ominous October – Murder (Mayhem #2) by Sarah PinboroughMurder by Sarah Pinborough
Series: Mayhem #2
Published by Jo Fletcher Books on January 6th 2015
Pages: 400
Genres: Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Mayhem, The Language of Dying, Behind Her Eyes

four-stars

In this gripping sequel to the acclaimed Mayhem, author Sarah Pinborough continues the adventures of troubled Victorian forensics expert Dr. Thomas Bond. Haunted by the nerve-shattering events he endured during the Jack the Ripper and Thames Torso Killer investigations, Dr. Bond is trying to reestablish the normal routines of daily life. Aiding in his recovery is the growing possibility that his long-held affections for the recently widowed Juliana Harrington might finally be reciprocated. He begins to allow himself to dream of one day forming a family with her and her young boy.

Soon, however, a new suitor arrives in London, challenging the doctor's claims on Juliana's happiness. Worse, it seems the evil creature that Dr. Bond had wrestled with during the Ripper and Torso Killer investigations is back and stronger than ever. As the corpses of murdered children begin to turn up in the Thames, the police surgeon finds himself once again in a life-and-death struggle with an uncanny, inexorable foe.

Mayhem Series

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough

Mayhem (Mayhem #1) by Sarah Pinborough {PurchaseMy Review}

*spoilers from Mayhem will follow*

‘I refused to allow my paranoias to root inside me; I knew I must allow them no room to grow during the long, dark nights.’

Six years have passed since James Harrington, the Thames Torso Murderer was finally caught and killed by Dr. Thomas Bond, a Police Surgeon in London. Bond is haunted with the knowledge behind the killings because Harrington was possessed by a violent parasite, the Upir, which drove him to violently murder all those women. Unfortunately, the death of Harrington did not kill the Upir, only left it temporarily without a host. Bond is seemingly moving past the nightmares of his past as he’s fallen in love with Juliana, Harrington’s widow, and plans to propose to her. His life is thrown into disarray when an old friend of Harrington comes to London with a packet of letters from Harrington which implicates him in crimes committed while in the throes of the parasite. In addition to the dredging up of these memories, Bond must also deal with new evidence which points to a new suspect being the famed ‘Jack the Ripper’.

Setting aside the horrific plot, the most amazing thing about both Mayhem and Murder is the vivid atmosphere deftly brought to life. Pinborough’s writing goes beyond creating a movie in our minds; it truly feels like you’re walking the streets of London, visualizing the slums and seedy individuals Bond encounters as he makes his way to the opium dens. The fact that she manages to blend historical fiction with the supernatural seamlessly is even more spectacular. The attention to detail only serves to make the horrors of this macabre story even more unnerving.

Mayhem stood alone as a solid story but Murder adds an extra facet to the tale that I wasn’t sure was necessary until I read it myself. The ending of Mayhem was, in retrospect, far too neatly completed; the mystery too cleanly wrapped up. Simply put, it was too good to be true. And Murder completely proves that to be true. If you thought Mayhem was terrifying and left your skin crawling, Murder completely outdoes its predecessor, ensnaring you in its grasp leaving you hopeless to stop reading until the undoubted heart-stopping ending. This was one superb and truly impressive duology. Bravo Sarah Pinborough.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Murder (Mayhem #2) by Sarah Pinborough

October 15, 2014 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 5 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Murder (Mayhem #2) by Sarah PinboroughMurder by Sarah Pinborough
Series: Mayhem #2
Published by Jo Fletcher Books on January 6th 2015
Pages: 400
Genres: Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Mayhem, Murder, The Language of Dying

In this gripping sequel to the acclaimed Mayhem, author Sarah Pinborough continues the adventures of troubled Victorian forensics expert Dr. Thomas Bond. Haunted by the nerve-shattering events he endured during the Jack the Ripper and Thames Torso Killer investigations, Dr. Bond is trying to reestablish the normal routines of daily life. Aiding in his recovery is the growing possibility that his long-held affections for the recently widowed Juliana Harrington might finally be reciprocated. He begins to allow himself to dream of one day forming a family with her and her young boy.

Soon, however, a new suitor arrives in London, challenging the doctor's claims on Juliana's happiness. Worse, it seems the evil creature that Dr. Bond had wrestled with during the Ripper and Torso Killer investigations is back and stronger than ever. As the corpses of murdered children begin to turn up in the Thames, the police surgeon finds himself once again in a life-and-death struggle with an uncanny, inexorable foe.

About Sarah Pinborough

Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed horror, thriller and YA author. In the UK she is published by both Gollancz and Jo Fletcher Books at Quercus and by Ace, Penguin and Titan in the US. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies and she has a horror film Cracked currently in development and another original screenplay under option. She has recently branched out into television writing and has written for New Tricks on the BBC and has an original series in development with World Productions and ITV Global.

Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story, and has three times been short-listed for Best Novel. She has also been short-listed for a World Fantasy Award. Her novella, The Language of Dying was short-listed for the Shirley Jackson Award and won the 2010 British Fantasy Award for Best Novella.

Mayhem Series

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough

Mayhem (Mayhem #1) by Sarah Pinborough {PurchaseMy Review}

I thoroughly enjoyed the creepy atmosphere of Mayhem, the first installment in this eerie Victorian series. A thrilling combination of horror, suspense and historical fiction (think Sherlock but much, much darker!) It was easily one of my favorites of the year and I’m definitely eager for more from this author.

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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Book Review – Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander #8) by Diana Gabaldon

September 11, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 2 Comments

Book Review – Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander #8) by Diana GabaldonWritten in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #8
Published by Delacorte Press on June 10th 2014
Pages: 848
Genres: Historical Fiction, Time Travel
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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Also by this author: The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel

three-stars

In her now classic novel Outlander, Diana Gabaldon told the story of Claire Randall, an English ex-combat nurse who walks through a stone circle in the Scottish Highlands in 1946, and disappears . . . into 1743. The story unfolded from there in seven bestselling novels, and CNN has called it “a grand adventure written on a canvas that probes the heart, weighs the soul and measures the human spirit across [centuries].” Now the story continues in Written in My Own Heart’s Blood.

1778: France declares war on Great Britain, the British army leaves Philadelphia, and George Washington’s troops leave Valley Forge in pursuit. At this moment, Jamie Fraser returns from a presumed watery grave to discover that his best friend has married his wife, his illegitimate son has discovered (to his horror) who his father really is, and his beloved nephew, Ian, wants to marry a Quaker. Meanwhile, Jamie’s wife, Claire, and his sister, Jenny, are busy picking up the pieces.

The Frasers can only be thankful that their daughter Brianna and her family are safe in twentieth-century Scotland. Or not. In fact, Brianna is  searching for her own son, who was kidnapped by a man determined to learn her family’s secrets. Her husband, Roger, has ventured into the past in search of the missing boy . . . never suspecting that the object of his quest has not left the present. Now, with Roger out of the way, the kidnapper can focus on his true target: Brianna herself.

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood is the brilliant next chapter in a masterpiece of the imagination unlike any other.

Outlander series

Outlander (Outlander #1) {Purchase}
Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) {Purchase}
Voyager (Outlander #3) {Purchase}
Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4) {Purchase}
The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5) {Purchase}
A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander #6) {Purchase}
An Echo in the Bone (Outlander #7) {Purchase}
The Outlander Series 7-Book Bundle on Kindle {Purchase}

After the dramatic conclusion in An Echo in the Bone and the five years it took for this installment to come out, I was expecting to swallow this whole as soon as I was afforded the opportunity. Instead? It took me upwards of almost THREE MONTHS to finish which is practically unheard of for me. When I finally read the last page, I ran joyously through the house a la Liz Lemon style.

But let’s back up and discuss what actually goes down in this book. There will be spoilers for previous installments.

So, there was drama. A lot of it. Written picks right up where Echo left off in 1778 with Claire discovering Jamie is, in fact, alive and kicking and her marriage (and consummation) to Lord John poses some mighty intense drama. Then there’s William who just recently discovered that Lord John is not actually his father, Jamie is, but raised him since Jamie was unable to. He proceeds to throw a tantrum about said drama for pretty much the full extent of the book making his chapters pretty interminable. We’ve got Ian and his dog Rollo, who have decidedly less drama but since he has become engaged to Rachel and just so happens to be well-liked by William, well there’s your drama for that storyline too. There are various other side stories too that are, you guessed it, full of drama. Oh, and we can’t forget about the fact that the American Revolutionary War is going on in the background of all this. Meanwhile, in 1980, Bree is frantic to find her son Jem whom she fears has been taken through the stones and back in time by an enemy who discovered that Jem knows the location of a priceless buried treasure. Roger has set off to follow them through the stones to get him back but his leaving brings more trouble for Bree back home.

Bree and Roger’s sections were my most favorite but were, unfortunately, the smallest part of the book as a whole. I’d say they got roughly 20% while the remaining 80% was spent in 1778. All of Gabaldon’s books have been large in size, Written clocking in at 848 pages of extremely tiny print, but this one honestly felt too long. An extreme amount of detail was placed on Claire’s methods for healing with the rudimentary tools available to her and some were extremely graphic and completely unnecessary for the storyline as a whole. There were several chapters spent on her saving Lord John’s brother from an asthma attack, the medical cases from various individuals that were injured in battle, an amputation, Lord John Grey’s eye injury which she heals with her fingers and honey and the worst of them all: the surgery she performs on a slave girl to fix her rectovaginal fistula. FYI? Don’t Google that. It was all super detailed and somewhat interesting for the most part but I wanted more actual story.

Yes, I did give this 3 stars so clearly there was some good to this. Again, like I said, Bree and Roger’s chapters were the best and I loved where their stories took them in this massive puzzle Gabaldon is masterminding. There were some terribly emotional scenes that managed to draw me back into the story: Ian and his dog Rollo, Henri Christian (Fergus’ son) and Jane’s whole sad story. I found the unrelenting drama too much but mainly because it didn’t manage to work my emotions like the other books always seemed to. Even though this one is most definitely my least favorite of the series there is no doubt that I’ll be continuing this series. I anxiously await the next installment (in a half dozen years or so if we’re lucky), especially after everything, got set up in the conclusion (but thankfully there wasn’t a dramatic cliffhanger).

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Waiting on Wednesday – Shadows Over Paradise: A Novel by Isabel Wolff

September 10, 2014 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 1 Comment

Waiting on Wednesday – Shadows Over Paradise: A Novel by Isabel WolffShadows Over Paradise: A Novel by Isabel Wolff
Published by Bantam on February 10th 2015
Pages: 384
Genres: Historical Fiction, WWII
Format: Paperback
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: A Vintage Affair, The Very Picture of You, Shadows Over Paradise

For readers of Kate Morton and Jamie Ford comes a captivating novel of two very different women, struggling to come to terms with the ghosts from their past—by the internationally bestselling author of A Vintage Affair and The Very Picture of You
 
Sometimes the only way forward is through the past.
 
Jenni Clark is a ghostwriter. She loves to immerse herself in other people’s stories—a respite from her own life, and from a relationship that appears to be nearing its end. Jenni’s latest assignment takes her to a coastal hamlet in England, where she’s agreed to pen the memoir of an elderly farm owner named Klara. Jenni assumes the project will be easy: a quiet, ordinary tale of a life well lived.

But Klara’s story is far from quiet. She recounts the tale of a family torn apart by World War II, and disgraceful acts committed against a community on the Pacific island paradise of Java. As harrowing details emerge and stunning truths come to light, Jenni is compelled to confront a secret she’s spent a lifetime burying.

Weaving together the lives of two very different women, Isabel Wolff has created a captivating novel of love, loss, and hope that reaches across generations.

About Isabel Wolff

Isabel Wolff's ten bestselling novels are published worldwide. 'Ghostwritten', set in present day Cornwall and on wartime Java, was published in the UK in March 2014; 'The Very Picture of You' was published in the UK and the US in October 2011. 'A Vintage Affair', was an Amazon.co.uk 'Best of 2009' title and was shortlisted by the American Library Assocation for their Reading List awards (Women's Fiction). Isabel lives in west London with her children, younger step-son and cocker spaniel puppy.

I thoroughly enjoyed both A Vintage Affair and The Very Picture of You and have been anxiously awaiting something new from this author. Shadows Over Paradise was published earlier this year in the UK under the title, Ghostwritten.

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 – Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan

September 3, 2014 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 7 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Fiercombe Manor by Kate RiordanFiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan
Published by Harper on February 17th 2015
Pages: 352
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Fiercombe Manor

In this haunting and richly imagined dual-narrative tale that echoes the eerie mystery of Rebecca and The Little Stranger, two women of very different eras are united by the secrets hidden within the walls of an English manor house

In 1933, naive twenty-two year-old Alice—pregnant and unmarried—is in disgrace. Her mother banishes her from London to secluded Fiercombe Manor in rural Gloucestershire, where she can hide under the watchful eye of her mother’s old friend, the housekeeper Mrs. Jelphs. The manor’s owners, the Stantons, live abroad, and with her cover story of a recently-deceased husband Alice can have her baby there before giving it up for adoption and returning home. But as Alice endures the long, hot summer at Fiercombe awaiting the baby’s birth, she senses that something is amiss with the house and its absentee owners. 

Thirty years earlier, pregnant Lady Elizabeth Stanton desperately hopes for the heir her husband desires. Tormented by the memory of what happened after the birth of her first child, a daughter, she grows increasingly terrified that history will repeat itself, with devastating consequences. 

After meeting Tom, the young scion of the Stanton family, Alice becomes determined to uncover the clan’s tragic past and exorcise the ghosts of this idyllic, isolated house. But nothing can prepare Alice for what she uncovers. Soon it is her turn to fear: can she escape the tragic fate of the other women who have lived in the Fiercombe valley . . .

About Kate Riordan

Kate Riordan is a British writer and journalist who worked for the Guardian and Time Out London. She is also the author of Birdcage Walk and is already at work on her third novel. Born in London, she now lives in the Gloucestershire countryside.

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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Paperback Release Day Feature + Giveaway! I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

September 2, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Release Day Feature 7 Comments

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

Paperback Release Day Feature + Giveaway! I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabeI Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe
Published by Broadway Books on September 2, 2014
Pages: 336
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: the Author
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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four-stars

An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband, inspired by the letters of a remarkable female soldier who fought in the Civil War.

Rosetta doesn't want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they'll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she's always worked by her father’s side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she's told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier.

With the army desperate for recruits, Rosetta has no trouble volunteering, although she faces an incredulous husband. She drills with the men, proves she can be as good a soldier as anyone, and deals with the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Rosetta's strong will clashes with Jeremiah's while their marriage is tested by broken conventions, constant danger, and war, and she fears discovery of her secret even as they fight for their future, and for their lives. Inspired by more than 250 documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is the intimate story, in Rosetta’s powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman’s amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life’s challenges side by side.

About Erin Lindsay McCabe

ERIN LINDSAY McCABE studied Literature at University of California, Santa Cruz, and taught high school English before completing her MFA at St. Mary's College of California in 2010. She has taught Composition at St. Mary's College and Butte College and resides in Northern California with her husband and son and a small menagerie that includes one dog, four cats, two horses, ten chickens, and three goats.

I’d like to thank Erin for allowing me to showcase her debut novel today, I Shall Be Near to You. Today marks the official paperback release for this book and it is a must read! I hadn’t read a good historical fiction book in a good long while and this one is quite the memorable tale. Erin also wrote a Guest Post and has also offered up a giveaway for one lucky reader. Enjoy!

On My Nightstand (which is a dresser)

My dresser, which was my great grandma’s, gives me a nice wide surface for stacking books, which is good because pretty much all our bookshelves are already double-stacked (and neither my husband nor I can bear to part with books).

The stacks on my dresser have reached pretty ridiculous proportions, because my husband and I just can’t stop buying books (his dresser looks very similar to mine, only messier). I mean, you can’t even see our wedding photo hidden behind the books and you can only just see the top of the jar that holds my dried wedding bouquet (15 years and going strong!).

Despite what may look like a chaotic hodge-podge, my stacks break down into categories, which originally happened purely by accident. Hidden in back (underneath the green sparkly horseshoe fascinator my mom made me as a semi-joke) is the Old Books I have Borrowed For So Long They Might As Well Be Mine (I have to hide them in case the person I lent them to comes over). At the top of that stack is Watch For Me On The Mountain by Forrest Carter, which I have been procrastinating on reading (for years!). The book belongs to my mom and she told me it made her so angry she threw it across the room. Then she lent it to me because it was so good. Honestly, I’m a little nervous to read it, which is why it has languished there so long.

The next stack is Book I’m Waiting To Be In The Right Mood For. Almost all of them are books I’ve dipped into and had to put aside–not because I didn’t like them, but because I wasn’t ready for them yet. Many of them are dark–books like The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosely and The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh–and so I feel like I need to be in the right mental space to tackle them.

Then there is the stack of Books I Want to Read Sooner Rather Than Later. Most of these are books that came highly recommended and I want to be able to chat about the book with that person. Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, Doc by Mary Doria Russell, and The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers top that stack.

And finally there’s the stack of Books That Have Deadlines Attached To Them, usually for my book club but sometimes because they’re ARCs. Right now that stack is topped by The Untold by Courtney Collins, which was my pick for my book club and which I’m so excited to read because the protagonist reminds me of Rosetta, the main character of my novel I Shall Be Near To You. I adore pretty much any kick-ass female character, especially those who chafe against gender roles. It doesn’t hurt that The Untold also has horses on the cover and in the first pages–I’m a sucker for any book with horses.

And of course, there’s my mental Books I Must Get My Hands On stack, at the top of which right now is Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt which I opened up at the bookstore to see if I was going to like it (I often give books the “first page” test before buying them). I devoured the first page and then proceeded to read the entire first two chapters while standing there in the aisle. I immediately fell for the quirky voice of the main character and felt enormous sympathy for her and her best friend/dying-of-AIDS uncle. I don’t know why, but I love a book that will break my heart. I didn’t buy it because I had a moment of will-power thinking about everything already stacked on my dresser. But I will be picking it up again one way or another.

‘Laying there on our bed is Jeremiah’s work shirt where I left it, the map unfolded beside it. And then like a hornets’ nest in the hot dust that you almost don’t see until it’s too late, but once you have, you can’t not see it for the buzzing in and out of the crack in the dirt crust, the idea of it just comes to me.’

It’s 1862, and the country is in the midst of the Civil War that goes on for another 3 years. Jeremiah Wakefield, a New Yorker, has dreams of someday owning his own farm and being able to take care of Rosetta and their future family and the Army’s enlistment bonus would be exactly what he needs to do that. Rosetta is a tomboy and helps out on her father’s farm but when she finds out that Jeremiah is leaving her for the war, she insists that if he’s intent on going off to war that he’s going to marry her first. They end up marrying and Jeremiah leaves shortly afterward. Rosetta finds that life just isn’t the same with him gone and sitting alone in their house day in and day out worried about his safety is more than she can take. So she chops off her hair and enlists in her husband’s unit as “Ross Stone”.

Rosetta was the most incredibly memorable and courageous character. I Shall Be Near to You showcases one woman of this time period that defied gender expectations but Rosetta was not the only woman out there fighting alongside husbands, brothers, or fathers. In the Author’s Note, McCabe states that “…the fictional Rosetta’s experience as a soldier is an amalgamation of the experiences of the more than two hundred women who are known to have enlisted […]”. It’s an aspect of war, not just during the Civil War either, that is not often explored and it was so fantastic to read this beautifully written story bringing these women’s stories to life, women who put their lives on the line when they didn’t have to.

McCabe’s time spent researching this period is evident from her descriptions of the camp sites set up, the foods, and of the deep seated feeling of dread these men (and women) were experiencing when marching into battle. Rosetta’s sacrifice and dedication to her husband is truly inspirational and you’ll be hard pressed to forget their ardent love story. Skillfully constructed and masterfully executed, if you are a fan of historical fiction novels and especially Civil War centered novels, this is a must read. A most impressive debut novel, I eagerly await more from McCabe.

Thanks to the author I’m able to offer up a copy of I Shall Be Near To You to 1 lucky reader!

Open to U.S. residents only
Giveaway ends September 16th, 2014

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Early Review – The Terror of the Southlands (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #2) by Caroline Carlson

August 28, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Middle Grade, Read in 2014 2 Comments

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

Early Review – The Terror of the Southlands (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #2) by Caroline CarlsonThe Terror of the Southlands by Caroline Carlson
Illustrator: Dave Phillips
Series: The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #2
Published by HarperCollins on September 9th 2014
Pages: 336
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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Also by this author: Magic Marks the Spot

three-stars

Hilary Westfield is a pirate. In fact, she’s the Terror of the Southlands! She’s daring, brave, fearless, and . . . in a rut. Maybe she hasn’t found any treasure lately. And maybe she isn’t fighting off as many scallywags as she’d like. But does that mean she and her loyal crew (including a magical gargoyle) deserve to be kicked out of the ranks of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates?

There is only one thing to do—find a daring mission worthy of her fearless reputation. With the help of first mate Charlie, finishing-school friend Claire, and the self-proclaimed intrepid gargoyle, Hilary sets sail on a swashbuckling expedition that may or may not involve a kidnapped Enchantress, bumbling inspectors, a mysterious group called the Mutineers, and—the most terrifying thing of all—a High Society ball.

Caroline Carlson brings just as much rollicking fun, laughter, and action to this second book of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates as she did with the first, Magic Marks the Spot.

The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series

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Magic Marks the Spot (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1) by Caroline Carlson [PurchaseReview]

Hilary Westfield has finally achieved her ultimate goal in life: she’s an official member of The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates. But life as a pirate has been, as of late, not exactly full of thrills. This has clearly not gone unnoticed as she’s just received her first warning from the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates that her membership is about to be revoked if she doesn’t start acting more pirate-y. Hilary and her crew head off on a search to find the lost Enchantress and she can only hope that this mission helps her reputation as a pirate.

While reading this, the one thing I kept thinking was this would be one adorable Disney movie. We’ve got Hilary, the young girl who wants nothing more than to be a world renowned pirate. There’s her unlikely companion, a talking gargoyle rather than the much-expected parrot. Add to that is the goofy rather than dangerous pirates, the clueless police inspectors, the snobbish patricians that frown upon pirates and the all-together light-hearted storyline that is quite delightful indeed. Definitely a perfect storyline for a Disney movie.

More pirates, more adventures, more magic and of course more gargoyle make this an entertaining second installment in The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series. There isn’t much in the way of advancement in overall plot but this is such a fun read that readers of this series aren’t likely to mind.

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