Genre: Historical

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Aug 12

Remember Me – Review and Tour!

Book Reviews, Book Tours 0 ★★★★

Remember Me – Review and Tour!Remember Me by Chelsea Bobulski
Published by Feiwel and Friends on August 6, 2019
Genres: Historical, magical realism, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 256
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Goodreads four-stars

In this eerie and suspenseful YA, a teen girl discovers what connects her to the hotel she calls home as horrifying visions lead her to the truth.

Nell Martin is moving again, this time to the Winslow Grand Hotel, built in 1878. As Nell is settling in, strange things begin to happen. Doors lock of their own accord, writing appears on bathroom walls--and most horrifying of all--visions of a dead boy permeate her waking life. Thinking it was her mind playing tricks on her, she soon finds the past and the present colliding as she learns horrific details of a murder that happened at the hotel in 1905 involving a girl named Lea.

Nell and a mysterious bellboy must relive that day in hopes of finally breaking a curse that imprisons them both. And Nell discovers what truly links her to the history of the Winslow Grand Hotel.

I received this book for 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.

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Be sure to check out the entire tour lineup over at The Fantastic Flying Bookclub! Also scroll to the bottom to enter the giveaway. 🙂

I was not, honestly, expecting this book to be creepy. In my experience most YA books that try to be “horror” or even just plain mystery are usually only vaguely so. I am thrilled to report that Remember Me was better than most! I actually felt the hair on my arms raising at points. It was awesome! It did have a little trouble getting off the ground, in my opinion, but once the settings (yes, plural, as the POV alternates with a modern day one and a historical one) were established I absolutely couldn’t put it down. Highly recommend if you enjoy both YA and mystery/paranormal type books!

My one caveat: mental illness is somewhat used as a plot device. Treatment is given respect and not made fun of, and Nell’s feelings about her mother’s death and her subsequent therapy and very common, but I didn’t like the way it was made to be just a result of a THING in the plot. Terribly vague to avoid spoiling.

This is a very hard book to review because of the risk of spoiling, which really would ruin a lot of the story…so here are some quotes to whet your appetite! It really is an amazing, multi-layered tale and I strongly recommend it. Also, there’s a good bit of sweet, swoon-worthy romance. 😉

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It’s as if the air is heavy with their presence, every year and every guest superimposed on the other, all occurring in the same place, standing on the same floors, surrounded by the same walls. The only thing separating us is time.

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He does not have to say the words: Or else. They are implied in the tightening of his fists and in the memories of bruises hidden where no one could see. “Yes, Father.”

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I just keep feeling my hair twisting in midair, keep hearing the bulbs shatter, keep seeing those bodies lying on the floor, drenched in blood, and the man standing over them, asking me to join them.

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He looks at me with a hunger so intense, I feel it radiating down to the tips of my toes. He looks at me like I’m the only thing he wants. The only thing he’s ever wanted.

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I understand kissing now.

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About the Author

 

Chelsea Bobulski was born in Columbus, Ohio, and raised on Disney movies, classic musicals, and Buckeye pride. She’s always had a penchant for the fantastical, the stories that teach us there is more to this world than meets the eye. She has a soft spot for characters with broken pasts, strange talents, and a dash of destiny in their bones. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in history, she promptly married her high school sweetheart and settled down in Northwest Ohio with her notebooks and daydreams and copious amounts of chocolate. THE WOOD is her debut novel.

 

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Jul 01

A Bad Breed – Tour + Review!

Book Reviews, Book Tours 0 ★★★★



A Bad Breed – Tour + Review!A Bad Breed (Gaslamp Gothic, #3) by Kat Ross
Published by Acorn on May 31, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 292
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars

Pricolici.

A creature out of folklore. And nightmare.

January 1889. When a Romanian village suffers a series of brutal attacks, occult investigator Anne Lawrence is dispatched to the forests of the Old Country to hunt the killer – only to vanish without a trace.

The trail leads her mentor Vivienne Cumberland deep into the Carpathians to a remote monastery. As a blizzard rages outside, trapping them all with the pricolici, Vivienne risks sharing the fate of the woman she came to find. But is the culprit truly a werewolf … or something even more dangerous?

A man bent on revenge. And a love that was never meant to be.

Imprisoned in a decaying castle, Anne finds herself ensnared in a web of dark enchantment, at the mercy of a mysterious captor with a beast inside – and a memory as old as the ancient legends.

As the weeks pass, Anne learns his real identity, and slowly uncovers a complex and deeply passionate man. But is she willing to pay the price for falling under his spell?

Author’s Note: This darkly magical reimagining of Beauty and the Beast is the third book in the Gaslamp Gothic series, but can be read as a standalone with no need to start with Book #1, The Daemoniac.

I received this book for 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.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

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A Bad Breed is a hugely atmospheric read, dropping you into a gothic Victorian world from the first page. I really wished it was longer, to delve more into the background of Anne and Vivienne – but I guess that’s what the other books are for! This is the first book I’ve read by Kat Ross, so I took the description at its word, that A Bad Breed could be read as a standalone despite being the third novel in the series. It worked out just fine, and I’ve already downloaded The Daemoniac to read soon as well. 😉

Favorite Things

  • Vivienne and her fake marriage. It was fun and lighthearted, if sad that it was necessary for both the parties involved. Accurate to the time though, I think.
  • The way the paranormal was brought into the story. I wanted more details, but I think (hope) that all that is delved into more in the other books of the series.
  • Anne using her small stature and feminine wiles to get what she wants – hurrah for our girl not being afraid to use what nature gave her!
  • The dark, sinister atmosphere. This was done so, so well and just sucked me in completely!

Less Favorite Things

  • To be honest, the romance between Anne and the “beast.” It felt kind of contrived, and due to the whole captivity thing, I found it hard not to be a little uncomfortable. He never outright abuses her (is quite the gentleman, outside of the whole OH HEY YOU CAN’T LEAVE thing), and she is clearly a woman experienced and in full control of her own desires…just, Stockholm syndrome? I did THOROUGHLY approve of the way it ended, and I’m glad to see that the fourth book will continue Anne’s story!

4/5 stars overall, and I’ll definitely be reading more by Kat Ross!

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Author Bio:

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She’s the author of the Fourth Element and Fourth Talisman fantasy series, the Gaslamp Gothic paranormal mysteries, and the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Check out Kat’s Pinterest page for the people, places and things that inspire her books.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Jun 06

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

The Book Woman of Troublesome CreekThe Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on May 7, 2019
Genres: Historical
Pages: 320
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Goodreads five-stars

In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government's new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a powerful message about how the written word affects people--a story of hope and heartbreak, raw courage and strength splintered with poverty and oppression, and one woman's chances beyond the darkly hollows. Inspired by the true and historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek showcases a bold and unique tale of the Pack horse Librarians in literary novels — a story of fierce strength and one woman's belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

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TW: death, racial prejudice, rape, sexual assault.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a fabulous book. It’s very narrow in focus, which I think is what gave the author the ability to drop her readers into 1920s backwoods Kentucky in such a believable way. The blue skinned people of Kentucky and the Pack Horse Librarian Project are both from real history and it was just a real treat to read about something so real and yet so unknown.

“I was to stay put, and exactly where they wanted to keep me put. Beneath them. Always and alone.”

I loved Cussy. She’s had the short end of the stick in life, but she hasn’t let it completely beat her down. She loves her books, and her father, and despite things really looking dim she refuses to give up hope of a better life. Cussy is nineteen years old, with blue skin, in a society that beats her down for both. Looked at as basically “worse than colored,” her father is desperate to get her married since he knows his own days are numbered, due to being a miner and afflicted with black lung. He fears for her and this is the only way he can (he thinks) be sure she is taken care of and provided for after he is gone. His plan does not work out well for Cussy, and only stirs things with the local people that already look at both of them as outcasts.

Despite all the odds against her, Cussy finds a huge solace in her job as a “book woman,” one of the several female librarians who take books to the VERY farflung mountain people. She is so passionate about literacy, and helping all her patrons better themselves. My heart hurt as she constantly ran up against prejudice, not just for her oddly-colored skin but for just being a woman. Even the local doctor (someone who is supposed to be about HELPING people) is more interested in her for his ulterior reasons of figuring out her blue skin – no matter what her thoughts on the matter.

I also really loved that eventually, Cussy meets someone who hasn’t always lived in the hollers. Just as her mind has been expanded by books even though she’s never been outside Kentucky, the stranger has both traveled (extensively, by local standards) and read, and he treats her as a person regardless of her skin or gender. There isn’t really a HEA, but there is hope, and to me that is even more important.

This book was SO important to me on a personal level. My family – on both sides – is from the hills and hollers of West Virginia. My parents were the first generation to move outside the same county for over a hundred years, outside the state EVER. I grew up all over the United States and the world but I am still extremely conscious of my Appalachian roots, and sadly very little has changed in many areas where my extended family still lives. They – we – need more people like Cussy.

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May 27

The Burning Chambers

Book Reviews 1 ★★★½

The Burning ChambersThe Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse
Published by Minotaur Books on June 18, 2019
Genres: Historical
Pages: 592
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Goodreads three-half-stars

France, 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.

But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to stay alive.

As the religious divide deepens, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as tensions ignite across the city.

All the while, the shadowy mistress of Puivert Château—obsessed with uncovering the secrets of a long-hidden document—strengthens her power and waits for the perfect time to strike...

I received this book for 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.

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“Kill them all. God will know His own.”

3.5/5 stars. The Burning Chambers is the first in Kate Mosse’s new series, set in a similar historical time period as her earlier series, but this time entirely in France during the bloody wars between French Huguenots and Catholics. This book started out reeeeeeeally slow. So slow that, had I not been given a review copy, I probably would have put it down indefinitely. However, the description was excellent and so was the writing, it was just…so much. Also SUCH a huge cast of characters! There was a three page list of characters at the very beginning (which honestly terrified me before I even started reading). A lot of focus was on the religious conflict, too, which I found kind of off-putting but I understand that it was a HUGE part of life at that time, and was the motivating factor for a lot of the characters’ actions. There was SO MUCH double-crossing in this story…it made my head spin at times, trying to figure out who was on what side and who was a spy and who was playing both sides!

Characters

The story is centered around Minou and to a lesser extent Piet, but there are so many chapters from such a variety of people it was rather mind boggling. Minou is great and I loved that she acted demure enough to blend in seamlessly in the current French society no matter where she was…but beneath all that “proper-ness” was a backbone of steel and GOD HELP ANYONE who tried to hurt her loved ones. Phew.

Piet is a good, steady man with a heart of gold and again the backbone of steel. Despite getting something of the short end of the stick in life, he is still unwilling to believe the worst of people (something that comes back to bite him in the behind). I liked him, but I wasn’t swooning over him. I guess I prefer more of the bad-boy/wounded hero type. He’s just too…nice? (What kind of a person does this thought make me…)

However, all that said, my favorite character was Minou’s little brother. HE is going to grow up to be just the sort of bad-boy-with-a-cause I can get behind, I just know it! The most INTERESTING character is actually the villainess, but the interest of spoilers I’ll leave it at that.

Plot

The Huguenots (Protestants) and the Catholics of 16th century France hate each other for various reasons, and those with no strong religious sensibilities want only to profit from war. Minou’s father has been keeping some dark family secret, Minou receives a vaguely threatening letter…and she is oblidged to leave her beloved Carcassonne for the “safety” of Toulouse, which turns out to not be safe at all.

I really thought this would be more of a historical thriller than it was. As it turned out it was much more of a political/social commentary for the first 75%, with a insta-love sort of romance thrown in. It was sweet, but seemed QUITE unfounded…however, ignoring that little issue, the last quarter of the book really picked up the pace and made me MUCH more invested in the characters and their story, as everyone actually came together instead of being scattered all across the map.

Overall

3.5/5 stars, rounded up. The last quarter really saved the book, and I’m hoping all the meandering and emphasis on the societal aspects of the Huguenot/Catholic wars was setup for the future books in the series, which I will definitely be reading!

Stream-of-consciousness commentary:

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three-half-stars

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May 23

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4)A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell, #4) by Deanna Raybourn
Published by Berkley Books/Penguin Random House on March 12, 2019
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 323
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Goodreads four-stars

Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell is whisked off to a remote island off the tip of Cornwall when her natural historian colleague Stoker's brother calls in a favor. On the pretext of wanting a companion to accompany him to Lord Malcolm Romilly's house party, Tiberius persuades Veronica to pose as his fiancée—much to Stoker's chagrin. But upon arriving, it becomes clear that the party is not as innocent as it had seemed. Every invited guest has a connection to Romilly's wife, Rosamund, who disappeared on her wedding day three years ago, and a dramatic dinner proves she is very much on her husband's mind.

As spectral figures, ghostly music, and mysterious threats begin to plague the partygoers, Veronica enlists Stoker's help to discover the host's true motivations. And as they investigate, it becomes clear that there are numerous mysteries surrounding the Romilly estate, and every person present has a motive to kill Rosamund...

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A Dangerous Collaboration is the fourth in the amazing Veronica Speedwell mystery series by Deanna Raybourn! This is definitely a series you need to start at the beginning with, so if you haven’t already be sure to go read the first three books – A Curious Beginning (#1), A Perilous Undertaking (#2), and A Treacherous Curse (#3).

Warning: Possible spoilers for the first three books of the series, but not for this one!

I was really startled when I began reading this book! It starts off with Veronica leaving England – and Stoker – and going off with Lady Cordelia for six months overseas. SAY WHAT?!? You separated my darlings, WHY?? Very little page time is given to this six months, other than to say both ladies fell ill on the trip (but not deathly ill), and Veronica spent much time thinking about Stoker and her feelings and wondering why he didn’t write even though she had told him not to.

Eventually they return, and she and Stoker are so stilted and awkward, it’s like they had taken one step forward and about ten back. Before they even BEGIN to work this out though, as friends or professionals, Stoker’s brother Tiberius (introduced in the first book, gradually getting more screen time as the series goes on) bursts in on them and asks Veronica to go with him to an old school friend’s gathering on a remote island (*dun dun dun DUN*)…posing as his fiancee’. Needless to say…they all three end up going, and shenanigans ensue.

The mystery on the island was the most engrossing one in the series so far, in my opinion. After floundering through the first few chapters (seriously, everyone had emotionally regressed…it was so disconcerting!) I really got into it once things moved to the island. As Veronica (and Stoker…and Tiberius…) try to solve the mystery of what happened to Tiberius’s friends bride, they uncover more and more secrets. It was DELICIOUS!

In the interest of NOT spoiling anything, I won’t give any details, but by the end of the book I was very satisfied with the character progression once more. However, now I want more of Tiberius. He has become a character of interest. I need to see more of his bruised heart and soul…and I would be VERY interested to see if a woman who could handle him and his…proclivities…could be found!

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May 09

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1)

Book Reviews 2 ★★★★★

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1)A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1) by Deanna Raybourn
Published by NAL/Penguin on September 1, 2015
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 337
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Goodreads five-stars

London, 1887.

After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

“Mrs. Clutterthorpe, I can hardly think of any fate worse than becoming the mother of six. Unless perhaps it were plague, and even then I am persuaded a few disfiguring buboes and possible death would be preferable to motherhood.”

Review of a re-read! I actually read A Curious Beginning almost four years ago, when it first came out. I totally intended to buy the second as soon as it was available, but then it came out with a SHOCKINGLY mismatched cover and yes, I was that shallow. I’m really sad that I didn’t keep up with them (also, note: authors have no control over their book covers so it was really stupid of me to essentially “boycott” the second one just because of the cover, even though I totally meant to read it as soon as I could get over my dislike of the cover).

I recently got my hands on the next three (!!!) books in the series, and when I started the second one I realized that I remembered very, VERY little of the first book. So here we are! My enthusiasm for this book knows few bounds, as is best illustrated by HOW MANY TIMES I had to update my GoodReads status for it whilst reading.

And there’s more…click on the picture and scroll to the bottom of the GR review to see! LOL

Feels

The intrigue! The mystery! The secrets! The sexual tension! Ahem. Okay, I might be getting a little carried away. There aren’t really any punch-to-the-gut feelings that come along with this story, or at least I didn’t think so. It’s much more about the mystery surrounding Veronica, why so many people are suddenly interested in a young, unfashionably scientific woman. Stoker, with whom she is thrown together by chance, has a good many secrets that he is quite determined to keep hidden. He basically oozes bad-boy sexuality (in a Victorian sort of way), but actually has quite a soft heart.

“There are times when it is entirely safe to show one’s vulnerability, to roll over and reveal the soft underbelly beneath. But there are other times when pain must be borne without a murmur, when the pain is so consuming that if you give in to it, even in the slightest, you have lost everything.”

The banter is what really makes this book come alive. I laughed out loud SO many times – and not because the SITUATION itself was funny, or far-fetched. Veronica and Stoker just constantly throw one-liners at each other and it’s hysterical. The sexual tension grows and grows throughout the book and I was totally there for it! I was a bit non-plussed at the “ending,” but it made me all the more excited for the next installment. View Spoiler »

Plot

Since this is a mystery, it’s not possible to say MUCH without giving it away. But, it revolves around Veronica and the circumstances of her birth, and why people appear to be either trying to kill or kidnap her. The details aren’t ever especially gory, but it doesn’t quite feel like a cozy mystery to me, either. I’m vaguely reminded of the Amelia Peabody series, but with more sizzle.

Setting

Victorian England, with all the trappings that come along with that era. However, this is probably NOT the book or series for you if you are a stickler for details. The physical details seem fairly accurate, but Veronica is a very independent lady and quite the free-thinker, not just with regards to her whole-hearted pursuit of science but in her “dalliances.” I find it very hard to believe there would be someone in this setting who wasn’t completely ostracized from society…though perhaps I just haven’t studied the right history. I did thoroughly enjoy the scientific aspect of the book, and found myself Googling the scientific names of various butterflies to see what exactly she was looking at!

4.5/5 stars. Half a star reduction was for what I felt was a fairly common plot – not an unenjoyable one, but any means, but a twist could have been nice too. 😉

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Mar 28

Last of the Name Review

Book Reviews 1 ★★★★★

Last of the Name ReviewLast of the Name by Rosanne Parry
Published by Carolrhoda Books (R) on April 2, 2019
Genres: Historical, Middle Grade
Pages: 344
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Goodreads five-stars

Twelve-year-old Danny O'Carolan and his sister, Kathleen, arrive in New York City in 1863. Kathleen refuses to be parted from her only remaining relative, so she finds a job in domestic service for herself and her younger...sister. Danny reluctantly pretends to be a girl to avoid being sent to the children's workhouse or recruited as a drummer boy for the Union army. When he occasionally sneaks off to spend a few hours as a boy and share his rich talent for Irish dancing, he discovers the vast variety of New York's neighborhoods. But the Civil War draft is stoking tensions between the Irish and free black populations. With dangers escalating, how can Danny find a safe place to call home?

I received this book for 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.

“Always remember who ye are,” Granny says. “Descended of the great bards of old. Honord by princes near and far they were. Sought out for music and for counsel. Keepers of history. Writers of songs.”

I was excited to read Last of the Name, being of partial descent from Irish immigrants myself. It’s not a topic I’ve often seen covered for this age group, and I was thrilled to see it done so well.

Last of the Name is a middle-grade book about the arrival of Irish immigrants to the United States during the time of the Civil War. 12-year-old Danny has lost everyone dear to him except for his sister Kathleen, either to war, famine (by hunger or in attempts to steal enough food for their family to survive), or the crossing to America. He rebels at dressing as a girl to be a maid alongside Kathleen, but since it seems their only hope of staying together and surviving in the bitter, angry stew that was New York City in 1863, he goes along with his sister’s plan.

Kathleen is the sort of believer who believes more the less evidence there is. She could be on her knees for days on end. I’m going to die of hunger while she prays to save me from a bountiful future…If only there was a patron saint of those afflicted by tyrannical sisters there’d be hope for me.

Despite his complaining, it’s clear Danny dearly loves his sister and will do anything for her. As the city grows more and more hateful, both towards free blacks and the Irish (coming to steal jobs, naturally), it becomes almost as dangerous for them as it was at home – except here, people appreciate Danny’s voice and his dancing feet, which maybe – just maybe – might be the key to their survival in New York City. But when the draft is initiated and the Irish immigrants of the city bear the brunt of it (so much for random!), the whole city looks to go up in flames.

I’m not going to lie, I teared up several times reading this story – and I’m not even sure why! It just felt so poignantly REAL. Danny was adorable and I loved Kathleen’s fire and backbone.

“You Irish,” says another [man], just as stern. “It’s your own out there doing the lynching and the burning. What do you have to fear from your own?”

“You fat old men!” Kathleen shrieks. “What do you know of fear, you with your broad shoulders and your full plates! We have to fear what every woman fears her whole life long. Ye heartless men! When have you ever been small or hungry? Would you send a German child out on the streets this night? Aren’t we Catholic like you? Don’t we sit side by side in church?”

As is historically accurate, Danny and Kathleen’s Catholic faith does play a part in the story – but never in a proselytizing way. The story really shows how much conflict was in the United States at this time, not only around color, but around religion, politics, even denominations. It’s rather disheartening to see that we’ve never really moved on, the names of the different factions have just changed. Despite all that, the story is one of beauty and hope and I’ll be adding it to my own library.

5/5 stars. Highly recommend, and it REALLY needs much more attention than it’s getting!

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Jan 31

Maud

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

MaudMaud by Melanie J. Fishbane
Published by Penguin Teen on April 25, 2017
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
Pages: 376
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Goodreads five-stars

Fourteen-year-old Lucy Maud Montgomery—Maud to her friends—has a dream: to go to college and, just like her idol, Louisa May Alcott, become a writer. But living with her grandparents on Prince Edward Island, she worries that this dream will never come true. Her grandfather has strong opinions about a woman’s place in the world, and they do not include spending good money on college. Luckily, she has a teacher to believe in her, and good friends to support her, including Nate, the Baptist minister’s stepson and the smartest boy in the class. If only he weren’t a Baptist; her Presbyterian grandparents would never approve. Then again, Maud isn’t sure she wants to settle down with a boy—her dreams of being a writer are much more important.

Life changes for Maud when she goes out West to live with her father and his new wife and daughter. Her new home offers her another chance at love, as well as attending school, but tensions increase as Maud discovers her stepmother’s plans for her, which threaten Maud’s future—and her happiness—forever.

I received this book for 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.

Maud is an engaging fictionalized account of the early life of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the creator of the Anne of Green Gables books beloved the world over. While a work of historical fiction, the book encompasses many known facts and events of Montgomery’s life. I was very surprised to see how very similar, in many ways, her growing up years were to those of her character Anne. It was also very sad to see how, unlike Anne, she never really seemed to have support or love from much of her family. I was very intrigued to say the least, and will be looking at a full length biography of her in the future.

I was struck by how hard Montgomery worked to be able to write her stories. In a time when women were expected only to marry and have children, and anything else was considered strange or even evil, she chose education over even her current happiness or in some cases relationships with her family. She seems to have been a feminist before the term was coined. Though she did of course later marry and have children, it was only after she was an established and successful author.

The author takes time to shed light on the condition of women’s rights at this time in Canadian history, as well as the plight of some of the native people such as the Metis. There is also particular emphasis on the conflict between different denominations within the Christian church.

The author has included a brief historical biography in the back of the book, along with specifics about what happened to certain characters. This really helped to tie up the story, especially since this particular book ended before Montgomery was even eighteen.

4.5/5 stars. Highly recommend for anyone who has enjoyed the Anne of Green Gables story!

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Jan 14

How to Marry a Werewolf

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

How to Marry a WerewolfHow To Marry A Werewolf (Claw & Courtship, #1) by Gail Carriger
on May 13, 2018
Genres: Historical, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 196
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Guilty of an indiscretion? Time to marry a werewolf.

WEREWOLVES

The monsters left Faith ruined in the eyes of society, so now they’re her only option. Rejected by her family, Faith crosses the Atlantic, looking for a marriage of convenience and revenge.

But things are done differently in London. Werewolves are civilized. At least they pretend to be.

AMERICANS

Backward heathens with no culture, Major Channing has never had time for any of them. But there’s something special about Faith. Channing finds himself fighting to prove himself and defend his species. But this werewolf has good reason not to trust human women.

Even if they learn to love, can either of them forgive?

How to Marry a Werewolf is an adorable novella set in the Parasol Protectorate universe (the Parasolverse). I was in desperate need of a good paranormal book fix after the catastrophe that was my last foray into paranormal books, and as usual Gail Carriger did not disappoint! I giggled and swooned my way through this little story and my only complaint is that it IS little.

Note: You can read this even if you haven’t read any of the other Parasolverse books, but it is much, MUCH more enjoyable if you’re already familiar with the world and some of the characters. Recommend starting with Soulless.

Now, I have absolutely LOATHED Channing ever since he first appeared in I think it was the second Parasol Protectorate book. I hated how he treated Alexia and his general airs of superiority towards the entire world. I was more than willing to see him get his icy little heart crushed and broken in this book. Faith is an entirely new character and I loved her! I love that she totally disdains societal expectations of her interests and hobbies (she’s an amateur geologist).

“Are the British opposed to the immigration of foreign rocks in principle or just in theory?…I assure you, sir, these rocks are mostly harmless. Your virtue is safe from nefarious rock infiltration.”

Also, the narrative voice is hysterical, as is usual for Gail’s books (yes, I might be fangirling just a little bit here). There are some amazing quotes, especially near the end, but I’ll leave most of them out so you can discover them for yourself. Please just go read this story. It’s so worth it and really doesn’t take long!

Short, sweet, a little bit sexy – but much less actual sex than Poison or Protect, another of the novellas. 5/5 stars, highly enjoyable and highly recommend, and can we please have more Channing and Faith?!?

“I’ve looked all my life for family…now I know it is you…this is what you and I will do now. We will hold these broken parts of ourselves dear because they brought us to this point, and we will love each other wholly and completely.”

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Dec 14

A Holiday by Gaslight

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

A Holiday by GaslightA Holiday by Gaslight: A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews
Published by Perfectly Proper Press on November 13, 2018
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 172
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A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He's grim and silent. A man of little emotion--or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she's ready to put an end to things.


A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn beau isn't as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there's Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What's a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there'll be no false formality. This time they'll get to know each other for who they really are.

I saw this book and wanted it. Instantly. THAT COVER. Who doesn’t want to dress up in a sweeping, rich red gown with Christmas green trim? Clearly I was born in the wrong century. I had never heard of Mimi Matthews and while I am typically suspicious of historical romance books, my lovely experience with Someone to Trust made me willing to give this one a try as well.

The premise was intriguing enough – a woman willing to sacrifice her own happiness for her family, but only so far. Sophie has standards. She is more than fine frills and ballrooms. Mr. Ned Sharpe recognizes that almost at once upon meeting her. Before long he is head over heels – but will he ever find his tongue? Though very short, this story was absolutely delicious. I loved the science brought into it as the characters were discussing Darwin’s then-new theories, loved the descriptions of modernization, and I especially loved the major hat-tip to Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, which is one of my most loved classic books!

I can totally see Ned as perpetually frowning as Mr. Thornton.

Sophie has just about given up on Mr. Sharpe, but in an effort to please her parents she makes one last ditch attempt to get to know him – just to know him! that’s all she wants! not even to be attracted to him! – and invites him AND his parents to her family’s Christmas party at their country estate. Given their aristocratic status and his family’s merchant background…things may not go as smoothly as could be hoped. But Sophie is determined to try to like the man who is willing to save her family from her father’s ill-advised spending, and what results is a lovely little romance that builds as the two come to understand each other better.

If you’re familiar with North and South, you will definitely see the similarity between Mr. Thornton and Mr. Sharpe, which wasn’t really all THAT obvious until the mother came into play. I loved it. It was sweet, and lovely, and can we have a full length novel with Sophie and Ned?

^From the North and South movie, which was amazingly good and true to the book! I think it might be time for a re-watch.

5/5 stars, because while there isn’t a whole lot here, it seems meticulously researched, the characters are alive and vibrant and seem ready to walk off the page, and, well, they’re just adorable somehow. Also snow and Christmas, because apparently I am ALL ABOUT the holiday cheer this season.

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