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Showing posts from 2018

My Favorite Books of 2018

    The year 2018 brought many good books to the market. I was really looking forward to several of them. Some of them were disappointments, but others made my favorites list for the end of the year. Looking back, these are my favorite reads of 2018.      I have always been a fan of Biblical fiction. Deborah Rising presented a unique imagining of the prophetess Deborah.       Deborah Calling lived up to its predecessor, and I am excited for the third installment. While the book was a fast-paced adventure, at heart it was about a young girl trying to find her own identity and her place in a patriarchal society.      Lucinda Riley's The Seven Sisters is one of my favorite series ever!  The Storm Sister told the tale of a woman trying to find hope and meaning in the aftermath of a tragedy. I also loved the peaceful setting of Norway!       The Pearl Sister was a lush read set in Australia! I particularly loved learning about Aboriginal  culture a

The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork: A Book Review

The Enchanted Sonata  Author: Heather Dixon Wallwork Genre:  YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy Publisher: The Wallworkshop Release Date: October 23, 2018 Pages: 388 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Clara Stahlbaum has her future perfectly planned: marry the handsome pianist, Johann Kahler (ah!), and settle down to a life full of music. But all that changes on Christmas Eve, when Clara receives a mysterious and magical nutcracker.      Whisked away to his world--an enchanted empire of beautiful palaces, fickle fairies, enormous rats, and a prince--Clara must face a magician who uses music as spells...and the future she thought she wanted.     " The Enchanted Sonata ," a retelling of The Nutcracker Ballet with a dash of The Pied Piper, will captivate readers of all ages.       My Review: The Enchanted Sonata is a retelling of “The Nutcracker” with a mix of “The Pied Piper”. Clara dreams of becoming a future pianist and marryin

Merry Christmas! My Favorite Christmas Books!

    The holidays are a perfect time to curl up in a warm chair, sip some hot apple cider, and get lost in a great book. Here are some of my favorite holiday books to chase away the most hardened Scrooge and rekindle that glowing Christmas spirit! Merry Christmas, everyone! While this is not necessarily a Christmas book, it is a great read to start the Christmas season. This series of short stories by Ellen Cooney tells how a family has celebrated Thanksgiving since pre-colonial America. This novel focuses on the importance of family and their traditions. Winterdream is a gorgeous and faithful retelling of The Nutcracker .  While reading this you will be able to revisit the magic of Tchaikovsky's famous Russian ballet! The Enchanted Sonata is another splendid retelling of The Nutcracker ! This novel focuses heavily on music and is perfect for classical music lovers! This epistolary novel tells the tale of two lovers who promised to meet in Paris for C

Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones: A Book Review

Josephine Baker’s Last Dance Author: Sherry Jones Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Gallery Books Release Date: December 4, 2018 Pages: 384 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance .     In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine's early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.     With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry J

The Cards Don't Lie by Sue Ingalls Finan: A Book Review

The Cards Don't Lie Author: Sue Ingalls Finan Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: She Writes Press Release Date: October 9, 2018 Pages: 340 Source: This book was given to me by the publicist in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: 1814: It’s the third year of the United States second War of Independence. The British are on the verge of capturing the strategically important port of New Orleans. In the midst of the Americans’ chaotic preparations for battle, three women play key roles in the defense of the city: Catherine, a free woman of color, voodoo priestess, and noted healer personally summoned by General Andrew Jackson; Marguerite, a pampered Creole plantation mistress prone to out-of-body experiences; and Millie, a plucky, patriotic prostitute inspired by her pirate lover to serve in the most dangerous capacity of all. These three women’s lives and fates become intertwined as they join forces to defend their country.      Inspired by the contributions of real-l

The Lonely Empress: Elizabeth of Austria by Joan Haslip: A Book Review

The Lonely Empress: Elizabeth of Austria Author: Joan Haslip Genre: History, Nonfiction, Biography Publisher: Phoenix Release Date: 2000 Pages: 464 Source: My State Public Library Synopsis: Consort to Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, Elizabeth was a modern woman who fled the confines of Habsburg to roam free--she fancied dangerous riding, sailing and poetry--but her life ended with her assassination in 1896.         My Review: Elisabeth of Austria is considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful queens. At the age of 15, Elisabeth caught the eye of Emperor Franz Joseph, who was at the time courting her sister. The Emperor immediately fell in love with her and decided to marry her. At first Elisabeth’s marriage seemed to be a fairy-tale. However, her love for Franz Joseph quickly deteriorated. Suffering from an overbearing mother-in-law and a stiff court, Empress Elisabeth left her husband, her family, and her duties as an Empress. Over the course of 35 years, she traveled

Katherine Howard: A New History by Conor Byrne: A Book Review

Katherine Howard: A New History  Author: Conor Byrne Genre: History, Nonfiction, Biography Publisher: MadeGlobal Publishing Release Date: 2014 Pages: 266 Source: Kindle Unlimited Synopsis: In this new full-length biography of Katherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife, Conor Byrne reconsiders Katherine’s brief reign and the circumstances of her life, striping away the complex layers of myths and misconceptions to reveal a credible portrait of this tragic queen.     By reinterpreting her life in the context of cultural customs and expectations surrounding sexuality, fertility and family honour, Byrne exposes the limitations of conceptualising Katherine as either ‘whore’ or ‘victim’. His more rounded view of the circumstances in which she found herself and the expectations of her society allows the historical Katherine to emerge.    Katherine has long been condemned by historians for being a promiscuous and frivolous consort who partied away her days and revelled in male at

Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII by Gareth Russell: A Book Review

Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII Author: Gareth Russell Genre: History, Nonfiction, Biography Publisher: Simon & Schuster Release Date: 2017 Pages: 465 Source: Edelweiss/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: On the morning of July 28, 1540, a teenager named Catherine Howard began her reign as queen of an England simmering with rebellion and terrifying uncertainty. Sixteen months later, she would follow her cousin Anne Boleyn to the scaffold, having been convicted of adultery and high treason.      The broad outlines of Catherine’s career might be familiar, but her story up until now has been incomplete. Unlike previous biographies, which portray her as a naïve victim of an ambitious family, Gareth Russell’s “excellent account puts the oft-ignored Catherine in her proper historical context” (Daily Mail, London) and sheds new light on her rise and downfall by showing her in her context, a milieu that inclu

Princess: The Early Life of Queen Elizabeth II by Jane Dismore: A Book Review

Princess: The Early Life of Queen Elizabeth II  Author: Jane Dismore Genre: History, Nonfiction, Biography Publisher: Lyons Press Release Date: June 1, 2018 Pages: 320 Source: Publisher/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: In November 2017 the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. As a 13-year-old Princess, she fell in love with Prince Philip of Greece, an ambitious naval cadet, and they married when she was 21; when she suddenly became Queen at 25, their lives changed forever. Philip has been her great support, but fortunately she also had a solid foundation that helped prepare her for a life dedicated to duty. With previously unpublished material and unique memories from friends and relatives who have known her since childhood, this book looks afresh and in richer depth at her life as Princess, glittering yet isolating. Vivid detail and anecdotes reveal more about her, the era in which she grew up and the people who shap

Blog Tour: What Girls Are Good For by David Blixt: A Book Review

What Girls Are Good For by David Blixt Publication Date: November 6, 2018 Creativia Paperback & eBook; 535 Pages Genre: Historical Fiction Source: This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis:  Nellie Bly has the story of a lifetime. But will she survive to tell it?     Enraged by an article entitled ‘What Girls Are Good For’, Elizabeth Cochrane pens an angry letter to the Pittsburgh Dispatch, never imagining a Victorian newspaper would hire a woman reporter. Taking the name Nellie Bly, she struggles against the male-dominated industry, reporting stories no one else will – the stories of downtrodden women.     Chased out of Mexico for revealing government corruption, her romantic advances rejected by a married colleague, Bly earns the chance to break into the New York’s Newspaper Row if she can nab a major scoop – life inside a madhouse. Feigning madness, she dupes the court in