Archive of ‘Historic Fiction’ category

Review: The Rogue Not Taken

The Rogue Not Taken (Scandal & Scoundrel #1) by Sarah MacLean

From Goodreads: The youngest of the infamous Talbot sisters scandalized society at the Liverpool Summer Soiree, striking her sister’s notoriously philandering husband and landing him backside-first in a goldfish pond. And we thought Sophie was the quiet one…

When she finds herself the target of very public aristocratic scorn, Sophie Talbot does what she must to escape the city and its judgment—she flees on the back of a carriage, vowing never to return to London…or to society. But the carriage isn’t saving her from ruin. It’s filled with it.

ROYAL ROGUE’S REIGN OF RAVISHMENT!

The Marquess of Eversley was espied descending a rose trellis—escaping an irate Earl and his once-future countess. No lady is safe from Eversley’s Engagement Ending Escapades!

Kingscote, the Marquess of Eversley, has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, a quality that results in a reputation far worse than the truth, a furious summons home, and a long, boring trip to the Scottish border. When King discovers stowaway Sophie, however, the trip becomes anything but boring.

WAR? OR MORE?

He thinks she’s trying to trick him into marriage. She wouldn’t have him if he were the last man on earth. But carriages bring close quarters, dark secrets, and unbearable temptation, and suddenly opposites are altogether too attractive…

Jennie’s Thoughts: I am a huge Sarah MacLean fan, though I only discovered her in the last year or so. But I’ve binge read all of her books, and couldn’t wait until it was my turn at the library for her newest.

The Rogue Not Taken is the first book in MacLean’s newest series, one that I’m certain I will be gobbling up. Not only was the drama high (society outcasts and gossip papers and carriage road trips!) but the characters were fabulous in their own right. A bruised guy with a big heart and the youngest sister of a collection of dramatic sisters. Plus, a super mysterious doctor (I really want his novel soon!) and a collection of hilarious and fantastic secondary characters.

I think it is the characters in her novels that make me the fan that I am. (Confession: I am such a sucker for characters over plot, which I think is why I like reading series so much…I get to follow characters along for a long ride.)

Oh, and there is a cross-dressing heroine which is reason enough in itself for anyone to read this book!

For the Romance Readers Out There

Lately I’ve been on a romance binge, dancing between contemporary and historical, some pretty H-O-T and some tame in the bedroom (at least tame in what is described on the page).

I know I’m one of the only WSR ladies that reads romance novels, so I thought I’d share a few of my new favorite romance series with our readers. Just in case any of our readers are looking for a steamy read or two. 😉

The Blue Heron series by Kristan Higgins. The first book is The Best Man. Another bookish mom friend recommended this series to me, saying I would love it. And she was right on the money. I devoured these books! You know, ignoring my family to read, hiding in the bathroom for a few more pages…that kind of thing. The next book comes out in December (I believe) and I’m already dying for it!


Hearts and Crafts by Nicole Michaels. First book is Start Me Up. Confession: Nicole is a local-to-me author and one of the nicest people I’ve met. Seriously. Which might surprise you when you read the steamy scenes in her novels! :) I just finished her newest in this series a week or so ago, and it was delicious and heart-warming. So. Good.

Love By Numbers by Sarah MacLean, the first book: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. I loved Sarah’s more recent historical series, so I thought I’d try her first series and I was not let down. I prefer her more recent series, only because of the gaming hell aspects, but Love By Numbers still brought the awesome heroines and those super sexy romances that only Sarah MacLean can do!

Review: The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

From Goodreads: A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book; a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, “Nell” sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.

Jennie’s Thoughts: Is there anything as perfect as a Kate Morton novel? I’m really certain there isn’t. The sweeping storylines, the characters so real, the twists and turns and decades and romance…perfection. And this novel ranks right up there as my new KM novel of all. (PS, she has a new one coming out in October this year!)

The mystery of the tiny girl kept me guessing throughout the entire novel. Just as I’d be sure her parents were this person and that, things would upend my suspicions completely. And, the descriptions of the setting and Blackhurst Manor…oh, how they had me daydreaming about flights and vacations. I wanted to stroll through the forgotten garden, and fall in love with a new place alongside Cassandra.

My review isn’t doing this book justice, so I’ll finish up just to say, this book will be within my top ten books of 2015, no doubt. So, read it and fall in love as I did!

Review: Ruins of War

Ruins of War by John A Connell

From Goodreads: A chilling novel of murder and madness in post-World War II Germany…

Winter 1945. Seven months after the Nazi defeat, Munich is in ruins. Mason Collins—a former Chicago homicide detective, U.S. soldier, and prisoner of war—is now a U.S. Army criminal investigator in the American Zone of Occupation. It’s his job to enforce the law in a place where order has been obliterated. And his job just became much more dangerous.

A killer is stalking the devastated city—one who has knowledge of human anatomy, enacts mysterious rituals with his prey, and seems to pick victims at random. Relying on his wits and instincts, Mason must venture places where his own life is put at risk: from interrogation rooms with unrepentant Nazi war criminals to penetrating the U.S. Army’s own black market.

Andrea’s Review:  This book, a first in a series, grabbed me immediately.  I like WWII fiction, but have never really read anything about post-war Europe. Even though this was a completely fictional story, Connell really painted a strong picture about the troubled aftermath and general animosity between Americans and Germans in Munich after the war ended.

I liked Connell’s development of Mason Collins’s character. I felt like Connell was trying to portray this typical early 20th century detective in a 21st century way, but I liked the guy. Supporting characters were well developed and generally believable.

As far as the story went, I’ll be honest- it got a little gruesome once we got into the meat of the book- no pun intended. I like a thriller as much as the next person, but this isn’t a book I’d recommend to someone with a faint heart or stomach. With that being said- I couldn’t put this book down. I had to know if Collins caught the guy, and if so, if it was before or after The Next Gruesome Murder. So as far as entertainment goes- if you like a bit of blood & guts with your cranky, charismatic tough guy- this book has it all. I rated it with 4 stars on Goodreads, and I was conservative only because I can’t quite bring myself to give the big five yet. BUT…. I’ll definitely be reading more by John Connell, and specifically this series.

I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from my local indie bookstore, The Bookshelf in exchange for my honest review. Shop local, folks!!

Andrea’s first quarter 2015 wrap up

Recap: my list of reading goals included

Reading more physical books, non-fiction, the Dark Tower and Narnia series… etc etc. for a total of 52 books (including the 26 book challenge for Bringing Up Burns)

So…

How did I do through March 31?

So far I’ve read 14 books in 2015, so I’m 2 ahead of schedule per Goodreads.! This does include a re-read of The Sea of Tranquility, but I don’t even care. If you’ve never read that, stop what you’re doing and READ.IT.NOW. If you HAVE read it, you know what I’m talking about and you’ve already abandoned this post in favor of rereading it.

Five of the 14 have been ebooks, and four have been “real” books.  That means I’ve only listened to 5 audio books so far this year.

I’m currently listening to Wolves of the Calla, so I’m on book 5 of 7 of the Dark Tower series. The narrator on the audio is different beginning with book 5, but it’s still enjoyable. Basically it’s like going from Brad Pitt to…Leo? vice versa? Equally good but no reason to change in the first place.

Narnia has been on hold for some time, so maybe I’ll pick it back up with Megan; maybe I won’t this year. We’ve read Book 1 in the past, and she is only 5 and missing some of the context, so I’m not holding myself to this particular goal. (even though I’d *like* to meet it)

As far as the 26 book challenge goes…I’m obviously on track with it but haven’t really assigned any titles to specific categories since January. I’d like to do that soon, but it takes more energy than this momma has at the eleventh hour.

How are your reading goals progressing? Any titles I just have to read?

Review: The American Heiress

From Goodreads: Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’, suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage.

Erin’s Thoughts:  Having just finished reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue (swoon, squee, and all of that), I knew I needed to read something that would be a complete departure to avoid comparing.  Luckily, this gem was waiting for me on my Kindle.  Cora Cash is an American heiress who finds herself marrying an English Duke.  While Cora is no stranger to American high-society, she quickly finds herself navigating the web of English social protocols.  This book is full of flashy events, fancy dresses, meddlesome mothers and mother-in-laws, and, of course, gossip.  And let’s not forget the fabulous English setting.  I love a good period piece, and this book definitely delivers.  It reads like a season of Downton Abbey.  This is a great read to enjoy snuggled in a blanket with a cup of Earl Grey,

Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

From Goodreads: In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

Jennie’s Thoughts: Oh man, I always feel so weird, disturbed in a way, when I say that novels about the civil rights movement are some of my favorite. But, there is so much upheaval, so much heart, and people fighting for what is right, even when it is so very hard. It’s inspiring, honestly. But, on the flip side is the hate. And, this story conveys that emotion like one hundred punches in the gut.

I was literally sick to my stomach for the first third of the book. I could only read in 30 page chunks before the wrongness, the cruelness would just be too much. The writing is so damn powerful that I was literally queasy. And yet, I wanted to keep reading.

And then the story sucked me in, even through the pain and uncomfortableness. The characters, oh how I ached for them. For their fear, for their dreams, for what I hoped would come to those who breathed such nasty hatred out of them. And Sarah and Linda…I was fighting for them to grow into the people I hoped they’d become. I was holding my breath in places, waiting for what I wished would happen…and in spots that happened…and in spots reality came crashing down on me…and them.

This story is haunting and beautiful. It’s the kind of story that should be taught in middle schools and again in high schools. Required reading for every single year of both, honestly. This book touched me in ways I wished some of my required reading had in school.

This is the type of book that leaves a mark on your heart and you’re never quite the same after you finish. It’s really that powerful. Read it, and then let me know when you’re done so we can chat about it!

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