Wednesday, September 7, 2022

The Viscount Who Loved Me: A Bridgerton Novel by Julia Quinn

                                                            

Title: The Viscount Who Loved Me

Author: Julia Quinn

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis: 1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, this author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton, London's most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry. And in all truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better... - Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, April 1814

But this time the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn't just decided to marry - he's even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended's older sister, Kate Sheffield - the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate's the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams.

Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do not make the best husbands - and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate is determined to protect her sister - but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony's lips touch hers, she's suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself. - Back Cover



My Thoughts

I loved this book so much that I read it super quickly. Fans of the Neflix series will find a great many differences from season 2 and this novel. While the overarching story is the same; *SPOILER* overprotective older sister wants to shield her more classically beautiful younger half-sister from a bad match and falls in love with the man herself instead *END SPOILER*; the little details of how all happens are quite different.
 For one, Kate, Edwina, and their mother have the surname Sheffield in the book, not Sharma. As with the first novel, the color-conscious casting of the tv series isn't present. Also as with the first novel, I liked the book better. The book gives even more depth to Anthony that just can't quite be conveyed on the screen. Kate is very similar in personality to how she is portrayed on screen but we get some fun scenes with her dog, Newton, and a different reason for why she and Anthony get married. 

What I love best about this series of books is how light and fun they are to read. While there are definitely serious moments and difficulties for the characters they are just so so enjoyable, and as with romance as a genre, you know there will be a happy ending! Plus the version I read included the second epilogue that allows ou to check in on the characters years after the book ends. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series! 

Comment below if you have read this book or have suggestions for others like it!


To buy this book from Amazon now, click on the image at the top of the post.
To see more from the author, visit the website linked above

 

Sunday, August 21, 2022

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

                                                           

Title: The Heretic's Daughter

Author: Kathleen Kent

Genre: Historical Fiction 

Synopsis: Salem, 1752. Sarah Carrier Chapman, weak with infirmity, writes a letter to her granddaughter that reveals the secret she has closely guarded for six decades: how she survived the Salem Witch Trials when her mother did not.

Sarah's story begins more than a year before the trials, when she and her family arrive in a New England community already gripped by superstition and fear. As they witness neighbor pitted against neighbor, friend against friend, the hysteria escalates -- until more than two hundred men, women, and children have been swept into prison. Among them is Sarah's mother, Martha Carrier. In an attempt to protect her children, Martha asks Sarah to commit an act of heresy -- a lie that will most surely condemn Martha even as it will save her daughter.

This is the story of Martha's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived. - Back Cover
My Thoughts

I haven't read about the Salem Witch Trials in a long time. Like many my age in the US, I read The Crucible in high school and went to our school production of it as well. Then I read more about the trials when I was taking US history in college. I have always found it horrifying and yet incredibly intriguing.  
This novel did not disappoint. I love that the author is actually a descendant of Martha Carrier because I think that reminds the reader that while this is a work of fiction, unfortunately, the Salem Witch Trials were devastatingly real. 
I liked that this novel didn't focus on the people of Salem but on a family that lived in a nearby town. It shows how the lunacy and fear spread, and how if you did not fit the social norms or if you weren't friends with the right people, your family could still be accused. 
I also thought that it was a great choice for the story to come from the perspective of Martha's daughter, Sarah. Having a child's view of the events from outside Salem gives a unique twist that doesn't make this novel feel like just another Salem Witch Trials book. Be prepared to cry.



Comment below if you have read this book or have suggestions for others like it!


To buy this book from Amazon now, click on the image at the top of the post.
                                To see more from the author, visit the website linked above

Sunday, July 24, 2022

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

                                                              

 

Title: The Rose Code

Author: Kate Quinn

Genre: Historical Fiction 

Synopsis: 1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.

1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter--the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger--and their true enemy--closer.. - Back Cover 


My Thoughts

This novel was a thoughtful Christmas gift from a good friend. I was excited because it was on my TBR list! I have to admit, I came for the mention of Prince Philip but stayed for Francis Gray and Harry Zarb. 
 I love a book with lots of characters, especially when they are all so well done! I am also loving the two time periods but set not so far apart (like I recently enjoyed in Sisters of The Resistance). It keeps the story moving, but also adds suspense and context.  I especially enjoyed how the three main characters' differences highlight the wide range of people needed for the important code-breaking work that was happening at Bletchly Park. It didn't matter where you came from or what you did before the war, if you had a skill they needed you were in. This, of course, includes the great importance of women, as highlighted by the different roles filled by Beth, Osla, and Mab. Their stories also illustrate the particular challenges of women of different classes at that time. Each interesting in her own right, I think my favorite has to be Os.  
This book has a little bit of everything; a coming of age story, family drama, love, mystery, science, war, friendships, falling outs, and redemption. It is really one of the best books I have read in a while, maybe the best I've read so far this year. 
I am really looking forward to reading more from Kate Quinn! 



Comment below if you have read this book or have suggestions for others like it!


To buy this book from Amazon now, click on the image at the top of the post.
To see more from the author, visit the website linked above

Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

                                                           

 Title: The Jane Austen Society

Author: Natalie Jenner

Genre: Historical Fiction 

Synopsis: Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England's finest novelists. Now it's home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen's legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen's home and her legacy. These people―a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others―could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society. - Back Cover

My Thoughts

My own love for Jane Austen's novels often draws me to novels about her or her writing (see my review of Jane of Austin). By the same token, I am always worried it won't do her justice or try to imitate her work and end up making me angry. I walk delicately on the tightrope between reading all Austen-related fiction and reading none. I'm really glad that I decided to pick this one up.

The characters come together due to their love of reading Austen. Each of them comes to read her work for different reasons, but they all continue to re-read them finding minutiae to discuss in the relationships Austen creates. In its own right, the novel has complex and compelling relationships, while also following an Austen-like pattern. Those of you who have read Austen know what that means for how the story ends. 

This book was a breath of fresh air from all of the novels set in WWII that I have read lately, and I would recommend it to any Jane Austen fans without hesitation.




Comment below if you have read this book or have suggestions for others like it!


To buy this book from Amazon now, click on the image at the top of the post.
To see more from the author, visit the website linked above

 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Sisters of the Resistance by Christine Wells


 Title: Sisters of the Resistance

Author: Christine Wells

Genre: Historical Fiction 

Synopsis: Paris, 1944: The war is nearly over, but for members of the Resistance in occupied France, it is more dangerous than ever before. Twenty-five-year-old Gabby Foucher loathes the Nazis, though as the concierge of 10 rue Royale, she does her best to avoid conflict—unlike her bolder sister Yvette, who finds trouble at every turn. 

Then they are both recruited into the Resistance by Catherine Dior and swept into a treacherous world of spies, fugitives, and intrigue. While Gabby risks everything for the man she is hiding from the Nazis, Yvette must decide whether to trust an enigmatic diplomat who seems to have guessed her secret. As the threat of betrayal draws ever closer, one slip could mean the deaths of many, and both sisters must make choices they might regret. 

Paris, 1947: Yvette returns from New York to reunite with Gabby and begin life anew as a mannequin for Dior, who is revolutionizing fashion with the New Look. But first, she must discover the truth behind Catherine’s terrible fate, while Gabby finds that there are many kinds of courage, and that love is always worth fighting for. - Back Cover


My Thoughts

I was so excited to win this book in a giveaway on Instagram! I had been wanting to read it, so when the author shared that she had some copies to give away I knew I had to comment.
You all know I love a novel with a time jump, and this novel is set in 1944 and 1947. It is refreshing to have two time settings that are not 100 years or 50 years apart, but rather only 3 years apart. There is not a generational mystery or pieces of information that seem 'lost to time,' but rather a highlight of how much and how little can change during, and just a few years following a war. 
I love that little pieces of the story come together as we learn about Yvette and Gabby's lives during and after the war. There are some curves along the way as the author expertly underscores that what the sisters believe to be true can affect them for years.



Comment below if you have read this book or have suggestions for others like it!


To buy this book from Amazon now, click on the image at the top of the post.
To see more from the author, visit the website linked above


 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

The Duke & I by Julia Quinn

 Title: The Duke & I

Author: Julia Quinn

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis: In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound. From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince—while other dictates of the ton are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable…but not too amiable.

Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her. She is simply too deuced honest for that, too unwilling to play the romantic games that captivate gentlemen.

Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society—just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.

The plan works like a charm—at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule... - Back Cover


My Thoughts

I have to admit that I have judged romance novels in the past. My grandma, lovingly called Nan, LOVED romance novels but I always saw them as cheezy books with Fabio on the cover in a shirt open to his navel. After watching Netflix's Bridgerton and seeing that it was based on a romance novel series, I thought I would give it a chance. Fresh off binging season 2 I picked up a copy of The Duke & I at the library. Part of my hesitation in the past was also that I was afraid that the book would be better than the series and ruin the tv show for me. I have only experienced one case when the book was not as good as the film/tv adaptation (Divergent).
As it turns out, I did like some aspects of the book better than the show. Book Daphne is way better than Netflix Daphne. While the novel follows the book in general, there are specifics in the book that are not the same. I also find that books are better for backstory than film adaptations, you can better understand the characters and their motivations. 
The novel really follows Daphne and Simon and very few of the other storylines from the tv series show up in the book. The queen is not mentioned in the book at all and Lady Whistledown is used at the beginning of each chapter to chronicle the passing of time, and to provide background information about the characters that the reader would not get otherwise. The other Bridgerton siblings are mentioned, but only Anthony gets much development as Simon's best friend. 
It may also be surprising to some readers who are fans of the show when Simon is described to have blue eyes and fair skin. The relationships of the upper class in the novel are historically accurate and non-interracial, unlike the color-conscious casting chosen by Shonda Rhimes. 
I was wrong to judge this genre, I enjoyed reading this book and plan to learn more about each Bridgerton sibling by reading each novel in the series. Then, like I do with Outlander, I can yell at the tv about how "that isn't how it happened in the book" but still love both anyway. 
Since these books were originally published between 2000-and 2006, I wonder if Nan read and enjoyed them too. I hope so!


Comment below if you have read this book or have suggestions for others like it!


To buy this book from Amazon now, click on the image at the top of the post.
To see more from the author, visit the website linked above


 

Monday, April 11, 2022

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

 Title: The Lions of Fifth Avenue

Author: Fiona Davis

Genre: Historical Fiction

Other Books I've Read by This Author: The Address


Synopsis: It's 1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn't ask for more out of life—her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library, allowing their family to live in an apartment within the grand building, and they are blessed with two children. But headstrong, passionate Laura wants more, and when she takes a leap of faith and applies to the Columbia Journalism School, her world is cracked wide open. As her studies take her all over the city, she is drawn to Greenwich Village's new bohemia, where she discovers the Heterodoxy Club—a radical, all-female group in which women are encouraged to loudly share their opinions on suffrage, birth control, and women's rights. Soon, Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother. And when valuable books are stolen back at the library, threatening the home and institution she loves, she's forced to confront her shifting priorities head on . . . and may just lose everything in the process.

Eighty years later, in 1993, Sadie Donovan struggles with the legacy of her grandmother, the famous essayist Laura Lyons, especially after she's wrangled her dream job as a curator at the New York Public Library. But the job quickly becomes a nightmare when rare manuscripts, notes, and books for the exhibit Sadie's running begin disappearing from the library's famous Berg Collection. Determined to save both the exhibit and her career, the typically risk-averse Sadie teams up with a private security expert to uncover the culprit. However, things unexpectedly become personal when the investigation leads Sadie to some unwelcome truths about her own family heritage—truths that shed new light on the biggest tragedy in the library's history. - Back Cover

My Thoughts

Any time there is a book about books, libraries, or other book lovers, I'm in. This one has all three AND is a multigenerational dual time period story, so what is not to love? Plus, it all centers around a mystery of stolen rare books from the famous New York Public Library, so it really seems like this book was written with me personally in mind. 
I LOVED this novel. Laura and Sadie share similarities across generations; they fight for their careers and love their families. There were many evenings when I knew I needed to go to sleep but really wanted to keep reading to get to the bottom of the mystery. Then when all was revealed I was not prepared for the culprits. 

 Lately, I am super into historical fiction that is incorporating the more recent past. Like I love the look back at 1993 compared to 1913 instead of setting Sadie in the 2020s or the more ambiguous "Today." The choice of the early 1990s feels intentional and works so well for the comparison of the two women's stories.
I look forward to reading more from this author!


Comment below if you have read this book or have suggestions for others like it!



To buy this book from Amazon now, click on the image at the top of the post.
To see more from the author, visit the website linked above