Monday, December 26, 2016

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

Alexandrina Victoria, just past her 18th birthday, steps out of her mother's shadow and becomes Queen Victoria. Sheltered by her mother and her mother's household, she feels incapable of ruling. But determined, she begins to break free of her past and tradition. She finds Lord Melbourne, and makes him her secretary and confidante. As the two rule England, Victoria finds herself needing Lord M.

I really enjoyed this book. I haven't read a lot about Queen Victoria, especially her younger days. This book was perfect. Victoria was headstrong and determined, but not harsh. I loved her vulnerability. The plot isn't action packed, but rather a character growing plot.  I enjoyed how Goodwin played up the relationship tension between Victoria and Lord M. It was perfect! I could see Goodwin easily writing a trilogy or more about this fantastic queen who became the grandmother of Europe. Hint Hint!

Thank you to the publisher for a review copy.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon

Princess Margarethe has been placed in a secret convent while her father prepares to go war against the Southern kingdom. Lenia, a mermaid princess longs to go to the human world on her 18th birthday. When she does, she rescues a man from a shipwreck and brings him to shore. There, Margarethe stumbles upon Lenia and the skip wrecked man. The two princesses feel a deep bond after both help the injured man, who is none other than Prince Christopher, heir to the Southern Throne and Margarethe's enemy. The two princesses make separate plans to be reunited with him; Lenia makes a deal with a seawitch and Margarethe offers herself up as peace offering in marriage. 

This retelling of the classic fairytale is far from Disney's version. The plot is nicely done. The characters were okay, but I really hated Prince Christopher. I did like the story and those who enjoy fairy tale stories would like this one.

I purchased this book from Amazon. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Amber Keeper by Freda Lightfoot

Abbie Myers returns home to the English Lake District after her mother's tragic suicide. Reeling from the news, Abbie is devastated when she is blamed for her mother's heartbreak and death after running away to Paris with after falling pregnant with a married man. Millie, Abbie's grandmother is the only person who isn't blaming her. As Abbie tries to put her life back together after the tragedy of her mother, loss of her family, leaving her lover and trying to revive her mother's business, she begins to listen to her grandmother's story as a governess for a Russian Countess leading up to World War I. 

Both of these women had interesting stories, but Millie really shined. I connected with her. Abbie was okay, but a bit flighty in matters of the heart. The Russian grandeur was accurately portrayed, a grand facade steadily crumbling from pressures. I liked that the revolution was included. Stefan was a good character, but he was annoyingly stubborn. the plot was complex, but you could see it coming together. It was a good read.

I purchased this book from Amazon

Monday, December 19, 2016

Ophelia's Muse by Rita Cameron

Lizzie Sidal is not considered a beauty, but she catches the eye of Walter Deverell as she works in a millinery shop. He begs to paint her. Soon she is posing for many of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood members, but it is Dante Rossetti who has her heart. He encourages her to paint and write poems. They embark on a life of wild passion, but it includes betrayal, addiction, illness and heartbreak. 

This book was really good, but heartbreaking. it could be about a present day woman, but the historical setting makes the book glitter. The characters were perfect. The plot seemed to follow history pretty well. I really enjoyed it. 

Thank you to the publisher for a review copy.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

Rachel Pomie, a hard headed Jewish girl living on St. Thomas, dreams of Paris. Raised mainly by the maid beside the maids daughter, Rachel is devastated when she is married off to a widower with three small children. Life changes for Rachel when her husband dies and her future is left in the hands of Frédérick, her husband's nephew from Paris. 

This book was a good book. I definitely enjoyed the first part of the book almost more than the end. The beginning dealt with Rachel and her childhood more and felt yellow and sunny. The middle is more life normal life, but harder and felt red.  The end, while vivid, was a bit like a Paris; cold and grey blue. The descriptions are wonderful and characters are complex and realistic. I enjoyed it.

Thank you to the publisher for a review copy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tha Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs

Alexander Hamilton life starts and ends with hardship. As the illegitimate son of an shopkeeper in the Caribbean, he faces discrimination. When his mother dies and he is sent to school and becomes a soldier in the Revolutionary War. Elizabeth Schuyler, the tomboy sister in the crowded Schuyler family, learned the art of diplomacy early from her father when he attended meetings with the Native American tribe. When the two meet at her father's table, sparks fly. Soon, those sparks turn into a marriage that becomes part of the fabric of our early nation.

I liked how this book was written. It neither glorified or condemned Hamilton, but simply showed him as a human being. And it did it with grace that I believe Hamilton embodied. The Hamiltons' lives were so full of tragedy. I enjoyed reading about one of our Nation's Founding Fathers.

Thank you to the publisher for a review copy.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Fireman by Joe Hill

The Fireman is a mysterious figure and the savior of those who caught Dragonscale, a fungal infection that causes the host to spontaneously combust. The Fireman is different, he can control his flames and is a local superhero. Harper Grayson is a nurse caring for Dragonscale patients when she see the Dragonscale leave etchings on her skin. Jakob, her husband, wants to die together surrounded by music and wine. Harper wants to live, at least long enough to give birth. Seeking sanctuary from her homicidal husband, Harper finds a secret community that embraces the Dragonscale.

This book might be out of my normal wheelhouse, but it didn't stop me from loving it. The plot was so awesome and full of twists and turns. Hill does a wonderful job of creating an atmosphere full of smoke, despair and hope. The characters are amazing and so real. I really enjoyed reading it. I want to read Hill's other books now!

Thank you to the publisher for a review copy.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper

Charlotte Bill arrives at Sandringham to be an under-nurse to the children of the Prince and Princess of Wales' children. Charlotte is shocked discover the children are isolated from their parents and terrified of their nanny. Charlotte sets out to help the kids and gets the nurse fired. After taking the head nurse position, Lala finds herself head over heels in love with the kids. She raises them, putting her own life on hold. 

This story was really good. This is a period of time that I am not overly familiar with and I enjoyed the introduction, especially since it was a really intimate book. Lala interacts mostly with the children, which creates a special atmosphere. I enjoyed the scenes with the grandparents. I also enjoyed Lala's story, even though it was heartbreaking. A very good read.

Thank you to the publisher for a review copy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Rare Objects by Kathleen Tessaro

Maeve Fanning, a daughter of a widowed Irish Immigrant living in Boston, has just been released from a mental institution following an ill-fated flight to New York. Returning home, she finds nothing has changed, her longing for freedom and a different life drives her to take a job at a eclectic antique shop. While making a delivery, she finds a friend from the hospital is actually the ridiculously rich Diana Van der Laar. Maeve is pursued by Diana's playboy brother, and sucked into Diana's world before she knows what is happening.

This book was really good. The historical part of it wasn't too overwhelming and I feel that this book could have been about current times. Maeve was an amazing character, but she has terrible decision making skills. Awful. I liked her, but her ability to reason was unnerving. I also grew to like Diana, which surprised me. The plot led down where I thought it would, but there were some definite surprises. The book was a really good read and I enjoyed it.

Thank you to the publisher for a copy.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse

Constantia Gifford, is the unmarried daughter of the shunned taxidermist. Attending a local ceremony, she notices a lady in the crowd she has never seen before in the sleepy town. That night, the lady is found dead and her father is missing. As the investigation begins, Constantia realizes that the mystery surrounding her family may be deeper than she ever imagined.

This gothic thriller was really good. Constantia was injured in a stair accident as a child and has no recollection of her life before the accident. I found her a bit too trusting at first, but she quickly comes to her own. The plot is thick. Super thick. It moves at a good pace, allowing the reader to try and see the future. I enjoyed this book a lot. If you love gothic thrillers, this one is for you!

Thank you to the publisher for a copy. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Flame Bearer by Bernard Cornwell

Uhtred is going home to Bebbanburg. However, he knows it will not be easy as three other forces want Bebbanburg. Constantin, King of the Scots has declared that Bebbanburg is how his and intends to besiege the ramparts. Aethelhelm, advisor and father in law to Edward of Wessex, wants Bebbanburg and intends to use trickery to steal it from his enemy Uhtred. Living high on Bebbanburg's impregnable walls is Uhtred's usurper cousin.  The four forces will have a victor.

This book is amazing. The plot never waivers and I greedily sucked up each detail and word. Our powerful cast of characters is still with us; Uhtred the Warlord and thinker, Fintan and Uhtred, the warrior who is just like his father. I did enjoy that Uhtred reflected on his past, which brought a smile to my face, as well as his. Edith said it best "But you're  Uhtred." This book continues the amazing series. A must must read!

Thank you so much to the publisher for a copy.