Tag Archives: historical fiction

The Girl in the Tower (Winternight #2) – Book Review

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Published Date: December 5, 2017

Publishing Co.: Del Rey

Pages: 363

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

When the first decent snow hit, it was time to pick this up. Something about reading it while it snows just adds another level of whimsy to the tale.

After the events of the first book, Vasya has decided to travel the world on Solovey. The Winter King doesn’t think this is a good idea as bad things happen to maidens who travel the big, scary world alone. But, Vasya won’t be deterred. There is nothing left in her village for her after the rumors spread that she is a witch. So she dons men’s clothing, packs up Solovey who doesn’t approve of saddles and turns her eye to the great, wide world.

Someone out there is burning villages and stealing away the girl-children, people cower in fear and the noblemen can find no trace of the bandits. Vasya and Solovey stumble across the bandit camp while running from some pursuers who tried to catch Vasya, with three girls still in their custody. They hatch a rescue plan and steal the girls back but they’re almost caught by the leader. They run until they reach sanctuary where unbeknownst to Vasya, her brother Sasha is hunting the bandits with the Grand Prince of Moscow.

With new allies at her back and her brother keeping her gender a secret, they track down the bandit camp and take their revenge. Blood spilled together cements relationships and Vasya is invited back to Moscow with the prince and his men. Here, the tale becomes more treacherous, Vasya has the prince’s ear but there are many men jealous of this and hiding her deceit becomes more difficult everyday. Her sister, now a princess, plans to marry her off as soon as people forget about her ‘handsome younger brother.’ Tied down in marriage, popping out babies has never been in the cards for Vasya but very soon, the choice may be taken away from her.

Better than the first, Vasya is becoming a headstrong woman, more confident in herself everyday. Who doesn’t enjoy a good story of a maiden disguised as a man, exploring a world they never thought they would see and out cunning criminals along the way with the help of old, forgotten gods?

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Something Red (Something Red #1) – Book Review

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Published Date: June 18, 2013

Publishing Co.: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Pages: 336

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

DNF @ page 93.

Since it’s such a short book, I really thought I could push through and write a full review. However, it was just so bland and generic fantasy (people traveling through the wild with something evil lurking about) that I had no interest in what happened. In fact, if the monster would have just hurried up and ate everyone and we were thrown to a different set of characters (ones who were much more interesting), I may have continued.

The best part of the section of the book that I read was the monk sanctuary where the characters stayed for a few days. Warrior monks, providing sanctuary for travelers in a dangerous forest would have been a better premise for the novel as well.

It still gets two stars because there is talent here and I can see how other people might enjoy it. For myself however, I had zero desire to sit down and read it. In fact, I had to force myself to get to page 93 and while I’m annoyed at myself because I could easily finish it, I just don’t want to waste anymore of my own time. I have better books waiting.

The Queen of Swords (Golgotha #3) – Book Review

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Published Date: June 27, 2017

Publishing Co.: Tor

Pages: 368

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My reviews of books one and two: The Six-Gun Tarot – Book Review & The Shotgun Arcana – Book Review.

To our brave captain,” he said and tipped the bottle toward Anne, who took it and drank. “She who pisses on gods and kings with equal contempt. Bravo!”

Third helpings of a seven layer cake. I’m fat on amazing writing at this point. I have no intentions to stop eating.

This is a full dive into Maude Stapleton’s background and the origins of the Daughters of Lilith and I couldn’t have asked for a more thrilling tale. This is feminine power and wily women at it’s best.

Constance, Maude’s daughter, has been kidnapped by the Daughters of Lilith to be used as a sacrifice to prevent a great evil from escaping onto Earth. That evil has been working shenanigans for years in the shadows, tricking the Daughters into believing that this is the only option. But when Maude is your mother, she’ll use every nasty trick in the book and risk her own life to save her only child.

Maude was raised by Anne Bonny, the pirate queen. Anne was her many great-grandmother and a Daughter of Lilith. Maude trained with her on the beaches of Charleston since she was a child. Anne instilled in her a great sense of right and wrong and the training to back up any decisions Maude might make to bring justice forth.

The story flips back and forth between the present of Maude and Constance’s situation and the origins of the pirate queen in the 1700s and how she became such a force of a woman. Anne was a rebel, a thief and a leader. I won’t call her fearless as she definitely had moments of fear, but, she spit in the face of anything worth fearing and charged ahead. Stubborn and resilient, with a burning hatred of slavery. A pioneer of human rights. If the entire story had only been about Anne, I wouldn’t have even missed Maude. But, that’s unfair to Maude as she’s a great character as well.

While I missed Golgotha, the adventure was so fun and interesting that I wasn’t all that disappointed to not see my favorite paranormal frontier town. (A few characters from there did make short appearances.) Instead, for much of this book we’re in the depths of Africa, treasure hunting and chasing ancient evils. Finding the origins of the Daughters and the dark truths that lie in a city of monsters in the middle of the Sahara. A solid third installment in one of my all time favorite series.

The Black God’s Drums – Book Review

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Publishing Date: August 21, 2018

Publishing Co.: Tor

Pages: 110

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I received this copy from the publisher via Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review.

An orphan girl wanders the streets of New Orleans, making a living picking pockets. She just so happens to have part of a goddess riding her body as well. She dreams of grand adventures and accidentally overhears the bad guys talking about kidnapping an important scientist. She takes this information to the captain of an airship and uses it as a bargaining chip to gain access to the ship when it leaves. But, before that can come to fruition, they fail to stop the kidnapping of the scientist. Thus, leads into a rescue adventure in the bayou.

This is set in an alternative New Orleans just after (or during, I honestly don’t remember now) the Civil War, where New Orleans is considered neutral territory. Blue cannot fight Gray here. But, that doesn’t mean that both sides aren’t working on secret missions to sway the results in their favor.

The entire story is rich with ideas and decent character building, but I just wasn’t feeling it the way a lot of other people seem to. I think it’s worth the read but I wasn’t blown away.

Stalking Jack the Ripper – Book Review

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Published Date: September 20, 2016

Publishing Co.: Grand Central Publishing

Pages: 343

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I wandered across this book while browsing the shelves at the store. Honestly, all my other choices were out of stock but, I decided I would pick it up on a whim and see how it went. There are a million things you can do with a Jack the Ripper story and we’d just see where this went.

Good lord did this girl try to beat me over the head with how intelligent her boy toy was. Show me, don’t tell me. I’ll decide for myself if he comes off as even remotely smart. (He eventually does when allowed to talk for himself.) While we’re at it, stop telling me how good you are at resisting his charms when you’re clearly smitten from the very beginning. Let’s just make a promise not to lie to each other, okay?

Other than that, I did enjoy the main character, Audrey Rose. I always like a rebellious woman who decides to say, “Fuck your social norms.” I liked Thomas Cresswell even more as a strong male character encouraging said girl’s fiery personality and curiosity. Of course sparks will ignite between the two while they are elbow deep in cadavers. Nothing is more attractive than someone who can handle a bone saw like an expert.

Unfortunately, I figured out the identity of the Ripper early in the book. I had hoped they were just a red herring and I’d have a complete surprise towards the end, but I didn’t. No matter though, I still enjoyed the story. I don’t know that I would go out of my way to pick up the second book but if I wandered across it, much like the first, I may decide to read it.

American Hippo – Book Review

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Published Date: May 22, 2018

Publishing Co.: Tor

Pages: 256

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 5 out 5 stars

I received this copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

River of Teeth

Imagine 1800s America, where instead of horses, cowboys and outlaws rode hippos. Oh yes, sweet gentle fiends, hippopotami. The most dangerous creature in Africa is intentionally brought to the United States as an alternative meat source during a meat shortage. But Americans always take things one step further, and now they’re also used as mounts. Of course, someone always has to fuck something up and there manages to be a massive hippo escape from a ranch. Now there are feral hippos that rule the rivers and marshes. Blood thirty, angry hippos.

In this novella we are introduced to a host of outlaws, hired for a high paid, high danger job. To rid a dam of the feral hippos. Doing so will release the dangerous feral hippos into the South, spreading their death and destruction even further. Jobs never go as planned, someone always wants the death dealing hippos to stay right where they are.

Taste of Marrow

The surviving characters from the first novella continue their adventures in this one. Adelia has given birth after kidnapping Hero. Houndstooth is obsessively searching for Hero, not quite convinced that they’re even alive. Archie is waiting for her handsome U.S. Marshal to show up after not hearing from him at their arranged rendezvous spot.

Adelia’s newborn is stolen during a surprise attack while her and Hero are traveling. She’s being forced to meet with a mysterious person who arranged her child’s kidnapping, to see what they intend for her and the child. Probably not the smartest idea for the mystery person, Adelia is an infamous assassin. Hero is helping her despite the fact that she stabbed them, and they’re a poison and explosives expert. Archie is a notorious pick pocket and scam artist, and Houndstooth is your general bad ass and they’re hot on Adelia and Hero’s trail.

There are a couple short stories at the end that cover Archie meeting her U.S. Marshal for the first time and how Houndstooth’s hippo Ruby got her gold-plated tusks.

I loved everything about these novellas. The characters, the world-building, the plot lines. You name it, it kicked all the ass. Most importantly, major kudos to the author for including a non-binary person. It was a perspective to get used to but only because we are a gender obsessed world. It was further proof that content of character is far more important that one’s gender.

The Last American Vampire – Book Review

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter #2

Published Date: January 13, 2015

Publishing Co.: Grand Central Publishing

Pages: 399

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

History buffs and historical fiction nerds will adore.

But that’s the wonderful thing about being a vampire. Our hope of Heaven is revoked the moment we’re made. Every subsequent sin is a teardrop in the ocean.”

This is the follow up novel to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. While I had a lot of fun with that novel, this one was even more of a historical thrill ride. Here, we follow Henry Sturges after the death of his friend Lincoln as he trots through important points in history. Beginning with his landing in the New World before he was made, up until the early 2000s.

From the true story behind the disappearance of the people of Roanoke, to encounters with Jack the Ripper while hanging out with Brom Stoker and Arthur Conan Doyle, to hunting Rasputin and trying to take down Hitler. These are but bullet points in the life and adventures of Henry Sturges. True patriotic American hero. The oldest vampire in America. Will he ever stop fighting for his country? America should hope not.

While Henry Sturges is a fun character, it was Grahame-Smith’s ability to bring historical characters back to life with care and charisma that really made this book.

 

Favorite Female Authors – Part 2

Women’s History Month is quickly coming to a close and I’m trying to squeeze in one more book by a female author. I decided that I needed another edition of Favorite Female Authors. It’s only 5 more because I keep flying by the seat of my pants on these lists.

After my last list of female authors, I added quite a few female authors I hadn’t heard of yet thanks to you guys. I can’t ever run out of things to read (though I think that’s impossible) so keep those suggestions coming!

  1. Laini Taylor – I felt as though I really ripped her off not putting her on the first list BUT I did not enjoy the conclusion to The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. It was a big let down after eagerly devouring the first two books. However, that will never take away from Taylor’s talent and prose.
  2. Diana Gabaldon – I’m only a couple of books into the Outlander series but Gabaldon has clear talent. I love historical fiction and Jamie Fraser is the world’s best written man. So much so, it’s pretty clear he’s written by a woman. 😛
  3. Gail Carriger – Steampunk extraordinaire. I’ve only read one of her series so far but they are fun and full of sass. Strong female characters abound.
  4. Delilah S. Dawson – She writes great paranormal romance, but she also writes under another pen name. Lila Bowen, who I am currently reading the second book in her The Shadow series. The worlds she creates are so unique.
  5. Becky Chambers – Character driven space operas are her thing and she knows what she’s doing. I’m eagerly awaiting the third edition in her Wayfarers series.

 

 

The Fair Fight – Book Review

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Published Date: August 28, 2014

Pages: 448

Synopsis on Goodreads.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

DNF at page 166.

I did something I don’t usually do. When I could not decide early on, whether to continue, I went and read some reviews on the book. A good percentage of them said that Ruth’s chapters were the best. I was currently reading Ruth’s POV and was not impressed. As I was about to give in, I came upon a George chapter, it was a little more interesting. This lead me to try a chapter by Charlotte. Again, a bit more interesting. But ultimately, a little bit more interesting plus a little more interesting just didn’t equal keeping my attention.

This has been dubbed historical fiction meets Fight Club. I’m not sure that the marketing department has ever read Fight Club. Regardless, I can see where someone might enjoy this immensely. It just didn’t have the punch to keep me going.

The Witchfinder’s Sister – Book Review

3 out of 5 stars

A slow, smoldering fire that just kind of burns out.

Most accurate description I can think of.

It’s a very interesting premise but unfortunately, the author spends a very long time trying to get you to connect to the main character, Alice. However, I never really made that connection. I think Alice was just too timid for my taste, though I understand fully that women only had so many options in those days. Your life was tied to the men related to you and to not be homeless or in this case, drowned as a witch, you had to keep their favor. Alice does small rebellions but nothing to make much of a difference in the lives of the people suffering her brother’s wrath.

The drama was slow paced as well, I think in attempt to build anticipation, which it did. The repercussions for her brother were pretty mellow dramatic in the end. (Which is where my small fire comparison comes in.) The story leaves off with a clever little twist that I enjoyed.

Overall, a worthwhile read if you’re looking for some entertaining (only mildy so) historical fiction.