historical fiction

As Death Draws Near

26177728As Death Draws Near by Anna Lee Huber
Berkley: July 5, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!
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As Death Draws Near is the fifth outing in the Lady Darby historical mystery series. With this fifth book there is a bit of a change in the series now that Keira is married to inquiry agent Sebastian Gage. These two have come along way from the first book, when Gage suspected Keira of murder.

At the start of the book, Keira and Gage are enjoying an idyllic honeymoon (for details about their wedding, check out the novella, A Pressing Engagement). Unfortunately, Kiera and Gage’s well deserved vacation is interrupted when Gage’s father sends a request for  both of them to investigate the murder in an abbey in Ireland. Not wanting to risk the local investigators forming biases based on the existing religious tensions in Ireland, Kiera and Gage set sail for Ireland. With the investigation underway, Kiera and Gage delve into local politics and the tense atmosphere of the region, which is only exacerbated when a second nun is found murdered. (more…)

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Western Weird: “The Curse of Jacob Tracy”

19283155The Curse of Jacob Tracy by Holly Messinger
Thomas Dunne Book: December 1, 2015
Genre: Western; Historical Fiction
Source: Free From Library

Beach Vacation
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The Curse of Jacob Tracy is the first in a new series, featuring a former seminary student/soldier.

Death constantly lives in the shadow of Jacob Tracy. After surviving the Civil War, Trace discovered that he could see ghosts; this was not a gift that he wanted and each time he tells someone about this gift they die. So, when Miss Sabine Fairweather asks for his assistance and claims to be able to help Trace with his gift, Trace is understandably wary.

Trace has lived for years repressing his ability to see and speak with ghosts. Trace has always believed that his gift was a curse and does his best to ignore it. After starting to do the odd jobs for Miss Fairweather, Trace finds his powers increasing and changing all the while Miss Fairweather tempts him with her knowledge. However, Trace refuses to succumb to the temptation that Miss Fairweather presents, instead running off only to discover that he has been targeted by another man with powers, Merek. It seems that the mysterious and secretive Miss Fairweather is Trace’s only chance for answers, and she needs him just as much as he needs her.  (more…)

“A Useful Woman” is an Amateur Sleuth

26067944A Useful Woman by Darcie Wilde
Berkley: May 3, 2016
Genre: Historical Mystery
Source: Free From Publisher

Rosalind Thorne is a woman that lives on the edges of the ton. She was once a debutante on the verge of making a match. That life was destroyed when Rosalind’s father abandoned her and her mother because of some shady business dealings. Due to her constrained circumstances Rosalind had to make herself useful, and in that, she maintains her position in society.

Normally, Rosalind helps woman organize parties or assists in a strategic retreat from prying eyes. The ladies of the ton depend on Rosalind to help them manage distressing situations. However, Rosalind has never once before had to manage the inconvenience appearance of a dead body. When the body of Jasper Aimesworth is found in the hallowed halls of Almack’s, Rosalind finds herself reluctantly drawn into a murder investigation. And this investigation uncovers some uncomfortable truths about her benefactress while forcing Rosalind to confront her past and acknowledge that she has changed in the years since she was a fresh-faced debutante. (more…)

Swashbuckling Adventure with “Delilah Dirk”

17261174.jpgDelilah Dirk & the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff
First Second: August 27, 2013
Genre: Adventure; Historical Fiction
Source: Free From Library

I’d go there again!
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Delilah Dirk is a graphic novel that has been on my radar for a while. I loved the idea of an adventurous young woman taking her sidekick on a wild ride. The fact that Delilah Dirk is also a historical graphic novel, also very much caught my eye.

Set in 1805, Constantinople, Mr. Selim is a lieutenant in the Turkish Army, and he’s arguably not a very good one, preferring calm interspersed with cups of tea. When Miss Dirk is arrested and he comes into contact with her as one of his jailers, Selim is reluctantly intrigued. When Delilah stages a explosive escape and Selim is thought to be complicit, he has no other choice but to join Delilah in her adventures despite his unadventurous spirit. (more…)

Ghosts in the Manor House: “Lost Among the Living”

25329513Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James
NAL: April 5, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!
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I’ve been a long-time fan of Simone St. James and I longingly await each new book. I will admit that I struggled a bit with the first half of the book, but there is a turning point in Lost Among the Living and when I reached that there was no way I was putting the book down. If you read it, you will no exactly which event I am referring to.

Jo Manders is a young widow still mourning the loss of her husband, Alex, three years after his disappearance during the war. Due to the fact that Alex’s body was never recovered, Jo has been living in a state of limbo and strained finances, as she cannot receive her widow’s portion without petitioning the court. Instead of pursuing the legal channels, Jo accepts Alex’s aunt’s offer to become her companion. After traveling on the continent with Dottie it’s time to return home. Dottie’s son is returning from his stay at a hospital and Dottie wants to be home to greet him; Jo must also go as she has no other place to call home. (more…)

Readable History in “Flight of Dreams”

25614670Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon
Doubleday: February 23, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!
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Flight of Dreams tackles the crash of the Hindenburg, an event that I know little about. Lawhon fictionalizes the events that lead up to the famous crash, creating her own version of why the zeppelin exploded in New York. Considering the inescapable fate of the Hindenburg, I was not expecting to be so caught of in the suspense of Lawhon’s version of events. The Hindenburg is going to crash and some of the characters that readers meet are going to die. There is no escaping this fact. But, Lawhon gives readers such a compelling and human story about the people who were on board, and it’s the human element that captured and held my attention throughout. (more…)

The Stylishly Thrilling “Wolf Winter”

21413846Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekbäck
HarperCollins: January 27, 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Free From Library

I’d go there again!
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“Wolf winter,” she said, her voice small. “I wanted to ask about it. You know, what it is.”

He was silent for a long time. “It’s the kind of winter that will remind us we are mortal,” he said. “Mortal and alone” (p. 107).

Wolf Winter is a historical thriller set in 1717 Sweden and what a stylish read it is. Maija, her husband, and her two daughters, Frederika and Dorotea have moved to the Swedish Lapland from Finland, having traded properties with a family member. Soon after arriving, Frederika and Dorotea find a man dead near a marsh. The settlers want to believe that it was an animal attack but Maija is convinced that it was murder and sets out to prove her point, only to have the settlers tell her that there is something evil on the mountain. (more…)

“Revenge and the Wild”: Western Adventure Falls Flat

21843165Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto
Balzer + Bra: February 2, 2016
Genre: Western; Steampunk
Source: Free From Publisher

The view was nice, but the food was bad.
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Revenge and the Wild had a really awesome premise: girl tracks down the cannibals that ate her family. And, it’s also a Western for teens. I’ve been seeing a few Western style YA books out there recently (i.e Vengeance Road, Wake of Vultures etc.), but Revenge and the Wild is the first that I’ve read. There were elements of Revenge and the Wild that I liked, but as a whole I found that there was something lacking.

Westie is seventeen years old and as a child she lost her arm when cannibals attacked her family. Westie was the only survivor. Now as a young woman, Westie continues to search for these cannibals only to discover that they have actually come to her. Her guardian, Nigel, has invented a machine that will amplify the magic in the area, protecting the Native population that live near as well as the magical creatures that share the town with the humans. When a wealthy family comes to town to invest in Nigel’s machine, Westie recognizes them as the cannibals that killed her family. Of course, Nigel (and everyone else) is reluctant to believe that the folks with money are the bad guys, after all, they need the investment. But, Westie refuses to back down on her suspicions and when a few folks wind up dead, it goes a long way to convincing the naysayers. (more…)

Historical With a Twist: “Dark Days Club”

15993203The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
Viking Books for Young Readers: January 26, 2016
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Review: Free from publisher.

The plane was delayed, the luggage lost, and the museums closed.
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It’s rare that I don’t finish a book, and I’m sad to say that this was the case for The Dark Days Club. Never have I been so disappointed that I did not like a book. I should have loved Dark Days; the setting alone is my particular brand of literary catnip. Alas, there was something about Dark Days that did not jive with me; a case of “it’s not you, it’s me,” if you will.

Lady Helen is about to make her curtsy to the queen and embark on the husband hunt in Regency London. After a maid from her uncle’s household goes missing, Helen vows to investigate and learns about her own secret heritage. It turns out she’s a bit of a demon hunter and some lofty Earl, Lord Carlston, is supposed to teach her what that means. Oh, and did I mention that said Earl is suspected of murdering his wife. So, not only does Lady Helen have to contend with her entrance into society but also the discovery of a whole other society hidden beneath the surface of the ton, sworn to protect the masses from the supernatural. (more…)

Spies at the Congress of Vienna in “Vienna Waltz”

9341394Vienna Waltz by Teresa Grant
Kensington: April 1, 2011
Genre: Historical Mystery
Review Source: Free from library.

Outstanding Adventure!
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Vienna Waltz is a historical mystery set at the Congress of Vienna in November 1814. Our principle investigators are married duo Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch. Malcolm is part of the British convoy of diplomats attending the Congress with Lord Castlereagh; he’s part attaché and part spy. Suzanne has her own skill set and proves to be a valuable asset when Princess Tatiana, a woman rumoured to be the mistress of some of the most powerful men at the Congress, is found murdered.

Teresa (a.k.a. Tracy) Grant has been on my radar for a long while; however, I’ve always been hesitant to pick up the series since it has a very strange publication order. Originally, the series began with Malcolm and Suzanne as Charles and Melanie Fraser. Later, the author changed publishers and the characters changed into their existing form. Basically what I was worried about is how exactly I should read these books. Luckily, the author has shared a handy guide on her website and gives readers a recommended reading order. It’s this reading order that I’ve decided to go with. (more…)