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The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry that Forged the Medieval World by Shelley Puhak: A Book Review

  The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry that Forged the Medieval World Author: Shelley Puhak Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography Publisher: Bloomsbury Release Date: February 22, 2022 Pages: 378 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: The remarkable, little-known story of two trailblazing women in the Early Middle Ages who wielded immense power, only to be vilified for daring to rule.      Brunhild was a foreign princess, raised to be married off for the sake of alliance-building. Her sister-in-law Fredegund started out as a lowly palace slave. And yet-in sixth-century Merovingian France, where women were excluded from noble succession and royal politics was a blood sport-these two iron-willed strategists reigned over vast realms, changing the face of Europe.      The two queens commanded armies and negotiated with kings and popes. They formed coalitions and broke them, mothered children and lost them. They fought a decades-long civil war-against each ot

Before the Alamo by Florence Byham Weinberg: A Book Review

  Before the Alamo Author: Florence Byham Weinberg Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Maywood House Release Date: 2021 Pages: 299 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Emilia Altamirano, Tejana, half Native American, half Spanish, is the daughter of a Royalist officer who fought against Mexico's independence in the Battle of the Medina River. Growing up in Bexar de San Antonio, she becomes literate, is adopted as a ward of José Antonio Navarro, and acts as a page in the Ayuntamiento (City Council). She serves as a nurse in the Battle of the Alamo but survives to face an uncertain future.            My Review: Before the Alamo chronicles the events prior to the Battle of the Alamo from a tejana’s perspective, a Texan woman of Spanish descent. Emilia is the daughter of a wealthy Spaniard and a Native American slave. She becomes a ward to Jose Antonio Navarro, a Texas war hero. Jose teaches Emilia to read and write. Under his tutelage, she becomes

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel: A Book Review

Kaikeyi  Author: Vaishnavi Patel Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Publisher: Redhook Release Date: April 26, 2022 Pages: 497 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: "I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions - much good it did me."      So begins Kaikeyi's story. The only daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya, she is raised on tales of the gods: how they churned the vast ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality, how they vanquish evil and ensure the land of Bharat prospers, and how they offer powerful boons to the devout and the wise. Yet she watches as her father unceremoniously banishes her mother, listens as her own worth is reduced to how great a marriage alliance she can secure. And when she calls upon the gods for help, they never seem to hear.      Desperate for some measure of independence, she turns to the texts she once read with her mother and discovers a magic that is hers alone. Wit

The People's Princess by Flora Harding: A Book Review

The People’s Princess Author: Flora Harding Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: One More Chapter Release Date: March 31, 2022 Pages: 322 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Step behind the palace doors in this gripping historical novel that is a must read for fans of The Crown and Princess Diana!      Buckingham Palace, 1981      Her engagement to Prince Charles is a dream come true for Lady Diana Spencer but marrying the heir to the throne is not all that it seems. Alone and bored in the palace, she resents the stuffy courtiers who are intent on instructing her about her new role as Princess of Wales…      But when she discovers a diary written in the 1800s by Princess Charlotte of Wales, a young woman born into a gilded cage so like herself, Diana is drawn into the story of Charlotte’s reckless love affairs and fraught relationship with her father, the Prince Regent.      As she reads the diary, Diana can see many parallels with her own life and f

The Mad Girls of New York (Nellie Bly #1) by Maya Rodale: A Book Review

The Mad Girls of New York (Nellie Bly #1) Author: Maya Rodale Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Berkley Release Date: April 26, 2022 Pages: 336 Source: Netgalley/ Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: An exciting novel based on the fearless reporter Nellie Bly, who would stop at nothing to expose injustices against women in 19th century New York, even at the risk of her own life and freedom.      In 1887 New York City, Nellie Bly has ambitions beyond writing for the ladies pages, but all the editors on Newspaper Row think women are too emotional, respectable and delicate to do the job. But then the New York World challenges her to an assignment she'd be mad to accept and mad to refuse: go undercover as a patient at Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum for Women.      For months, rumors have been swirling about deplorable conditions at Blackwell’s, but no reporter can get in—that is, until Nellie feigns insanity, gets committed and attempts to survive ten days in

Agustina de Aragon by Gail Meath: A Book Review

Agustina de Aragon Author: Gail Meath Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Gail Meath Release Date: 2021 Pages: 198 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Her story is so much more than a tale of war, tremendous courage, and loss. It is one of the greatest love stories in history. Based upon a true Spanish heroine.       Barcelona, Spain, 1803. Agustina Saragossa, the youngest daughter of a bladesmith, sneaks around the military barracks, yet not to snag a husband as everyone thinks. Stubborn, hot-tempered and fiercely devoted to her country, like her grandfather before her, she is far more interested in learning about the ensuing war between Britain and France than the lazy, arrogant Spanish soldiers at the compound.       When Sergeant Juan Roca, a handsome officer with a troubled past, is relocated to the barracks, he is instantly struck by Agustina’s beauty and fiery spirit. Despite her heated rejections and open mistrust, he relentlessly pursues he

John Brown's Women by Susan Higginbotham: A Book Review

  John Brown’s Women Author: Susan Higginbotham Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Onslow Press Release Date: 2021 Pages: 374 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: As the United States wrestles with its besetting sin—slavery—abolitionist John Brown is growing tired of talk. He takes actions that will propel the nation toward civil war and thrust three courageous women into history.      Wealthy Brown, married to John Brown's oldest son, eagerly falls in with her husband's plan to settle in Kansas. Amid clashes between pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers, Wealthy's adventure turns into madness, mayhem, and murder.      Fifteen-year-old Annie Brown is thrilled when her father summons her to the farm he has rented in preparation for his raid. There, she guards her father's secrets while risking her heart.      Mary Brown never expected to be the wife of John Brown, much less the wife of a martyr. When her husband's daring plan fail

The Last Grand Duchess by Bryn Turnbull: A Book Review

  The Last Grand Duchess Author: Bryn Turnbull Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Harlequin Release Date: March 1, 2022 Pages: 400 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: This sweeping novel takes readers behind palace walls to see the end of Imperial Russia through the eyes of Olga Romanov, the first daughter of the last tsar.      Grand Duchess Olga Romanov comes of age amid a shifting tide for the great dynasties of Europe. But even as unrest simmers in the capital, Olga is content to live within the confines of the sheltered life her parents have built for her and her three sisters: hiding from the world on account of their mother’s ill health, their brother Alexei’s secret affliction, and rising controversy over Father Grigori Rasputin, the priest on whom the tsarina has come to rely. Olga’s only escape from the seclusion of Alexander Palace comes from the grand tea parties her aunt hosts amid the shadow court of Saint Petersburg — a world of opul

The Next Ship Home: A Novel of Ellis Island by Heather Webb: A Book Review

The Next Ship Home: A Novel of Ellis Island Author: Heather Webb Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark Release Date: February 8, 2022 Pages: 436 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Ellis Island, 1902: Two women band together to hold America to its promise: "Give me your tired, your poor ... your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." A young Italian woman arrives on the shores of America, her sights set on a better life. That same day, a young American woman reports to her first day of work at the immigration center. But Ellis Island isn't a refuge for Francesca or Alma, not when ships depart every day with those who are refused entry to the country and when corruption ripples through every corridor. While Francesca resorts to desperate measures to ensure she will make it off the island, Alma fights for her dreams of becoming a translator, even as women are denied the chance.      As the two women face the misde