Tag: Historical Fiction

Review: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Posted May 2, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Title: Shades of Milk and Honey

Author: Mary Robinette Kowal

Publisher: Tor Books

Publication Date: August 2010

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One

Synopsis can be found here.
I purchased this book.

Review:

Jane Ellsworth is a bright, smart yet plain girl. But while her sister has all the beauty, Jane has a clever wit and amazing talent with magic. Twenty eight years old, and sadly resigned to becoming a spinster, Jane is surprised when their sleepy town encounters some major changes, thrusting Jane into the forefront. She makes new friends, comes into secrets and perhaps, perhaps, may just get her heart stolen!


I’m sorry, what? Jane Austen’s world with some magic woven in? Sign me up!

This was a book club book and I’m so happy it was! I had been planning to read it for a while now but with my ever growing pile of books, it was down on the list.

What struck me most was the language. The author does such a fantastic job of paying homage to that brand of writing, without it becoming too cheesy or dated. It flows naturally on the page and the beautiful scenes with Glamour and magic woven in are effortless. I love this England.

Jane is sensible, humble but clear headed. Of course, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to Lizzie Bennett! And her sister Melody is a dreadful combination of immature, selfish and hopeless romantic. A few different characters spring to mind from Austen books, but you get the picture. While Melody is my least favorite character in the story, she does a wonderful job of bringing Jane out, causing tension and misunderstandings!


I loved the writing, I loved the magic. 
A quick and stylized historical fiction that remakes Austen’s England into something still charming but fantastically different!

If you love Jane Austen and love magic, give this one a try. You won’t be disappointed!

Rating 8 Cookie Worthy

Posted May 2, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments


Blog Tour and Review! A Thunderous Whisper by

Posted October 30, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 1 Comment

Title: A Thunderous Whisper

Author: Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Publisher: Knopf

Publication Date: October 2012

Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Ani is twelve, and the world around her is falling. Though she believes she is safe in her small village, she is very lonely for her father, who has gone off to war. She has no friends and her mother is a hard working woman with little time to mother Ani. Then Mathias comes along and they form a strong friendship, an important bond, which is needed during these war times. Because war comes for them and their lives are changed forever.

Thank you, Christina Diaz Gonzalez. The last few books I’ve read this month had left me in a slump. I kept going back and forth between them, not really enjoying them. But then I picked up A Thunderous Whisper. And yes! This is what I was looking for. I went home every day, excited to carefully read the next few chapters of this well written, heartwarming book.

The author’s writing is beautiful, flowing gracefully on the page. Ani is a multi-layered young girl who I couldn’t help but like. She has no friends, and is alone most of the time, except when she is working with her mother selling sardines. Her father is in the war, and there is something beautiful and heartbreaking about the author’s portrayal of Ani, sitting alone, under her tree, thinking up stories to tell her father when he comes back.

Mathias is smart, outgoing and brings Ani out of her shell, revealing her true self. He’s also friendly and loyal, seeing something special in Ani that no one else cares to find. Mathias is your best friend when you were young, someone you still think fondly about, your first real friend. All of these characters drew me in and waited for their story to unfold.

The story moves slowly, taking in the beautiful setting and its inhabitants before the bombing. And then, after and how the survivors pick up what is left and move on. 

Overall, it’s an uplifting story about friendship and family. Ani changes dramatically from the small, quiet girl at the beginning to the full and hopeful girl at the end. A book not to be missed. I’m so happy I’m on the blog tour and got to read this book!

Check out the other blogs on this blog tour and their schedule!
And thank you to Alethea at Read Now Sleep Later for organizing!

Posted October 30, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 1 Comment


**Romance Report** Book Review: Improper Relations by Juliana Ross

Posted June 25, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 1 Comment

Title: Improper Relations

Author: Juliana Ross

Publisher: Carina Press

Publication Date: April 2012

Genre: Adult Romance/Mature/Erotica

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone


Synopsis can be found here.
NetGalley review.

Review:
This steamy romance is entirely too short! Hannah is penniless after her husband’s death and goes to live with her husband’s cousin and his family. There she meets Leo, a handsome yet unfocused young man who enjoys life to its fullest. When she catches Leo and a maid having relations in the library, she is appalled and incredibly curious. Is sex supposed to be like that?
Leo suggests lessons and Hannah cannot refuse.
Of course, they can never be more together. Can they?

I loved Improper Relations. It’s hot love scenes are fun and flirty. Leo is charming, smart and dashing, all you want in your typical romantic hero. Sure, he’s sorta a man whore. But if Hannah doesn’t seem to mind it, then why should you? Hannah knows their relationship is strictly for teaching/learning purposes. Right?

Hannah is a sweet character. She is a little beaten down so when Leo offers courses on her sexual awakening, she can’t help but accept.

This novella is full of fun! Great plot, likable characters and scorching romance.

Rating: 9 Awesome like Cookies and Ice Cream

Posted June 25, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 1 Comment


**Romance Report: A Tryst With Trouble by Alyssa Everett

Posted April 2, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Title: A Tryst With Trouble

Author: Alyssa Everett

Publisher: Dorchester Publishing

Publication Date: April 2012

Genre: Adult Historical Romance

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One

Synopsis can be found here.
NetGalley Review.

Review:
Murder! Scandal! Dukes and Dutchesses! Footmen and Blackmail! You will find all this and more when you read A Tryst With Trouble.

I am not a fan of bodice ripping, Regency romances, so I wasn’t sure what I would find. But the Read Now Sleep Later girls Alethea and Thuy were so into it, they promised me I’d enjoy it.
And they were not lying! WOW!

Barbara and Ben, two very stubborn and clever people, are thrown together in an investigation when a neighbor’s footman is murdered outside of Barbara’s door. I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say that both characters have family members riding on the verdict. They are forced to work together, even though they don’t like each other at all. You hear that? At. All. Well, ok, maybe a little.

The story bounces from Barbara’s narration to Ben’s, creating hilarious situations and misunderstandings. Barbara is smart, beautiful and has a strong bite on her that I love in a heroine. Her cutting remarks and quick wit made me laugh out loud a few times. Ben is smart, stubborn and pretty much in over his head when he agrees to help Barbara find the real murderer. His cool exterior quickly dissolves to find him a nervous, out of sorts, awkward young man who doesn’t know what to do with this cool headed woman.

Everett plays the characters perfectly. Both Ben and Barbara were well thought out, deeply emotional characters who I loved reading about- from their own perspectives as well as seeing the other through their eyes. I loved the language and the setting. I was transformed back to that time. And a couple of times, my heart broke.

There were so many fun twists and turns in the plot, I wasn’t sure who was evil and who was good! Everyone looked suspicious to me. So much fun! I am tempted to read it all over again, just to enjoy the banter.

Rating 10 One of The Best

Posted April 2, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 2 Comments


Author Interview & Book Review: The Agency: The Traitor In The Tunnel by Y.S. Lee

Posted February 23, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 4 Comments

Title: The Agency: The Traitor In The Tunnel

Author: Y.S. Lee

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Publication Date: February 2012

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book Three

Synopsis can be found here.
Netgalley review.

Review:
Mary Quinn is back and surrounded my another fantastic mystery! This time, she a parlour maid at Buckingham Palace, investigating a series of thefts that have occurred right under the Queen’s nose!
But while she’s there, an even bigger mystery is placed at her feet. And she must do everything she can to solve it. More than one life is at stake, and Mary may have a very personal relationship to the suspect…

One of my favorite YA series is back and let me tell you, I am so happy to see Mary and company again! The layers and layers of mystery are delicately laid over this well written story. Mary has to juggle more than one case, all while working undercover. Only her mentors at the Agency know where she is, who she really is.
That is, until Easton Engineering take on a project that brings her beloved James Easton right to the Palace door! Or, uh, to the Palace’s underground tunnels!

As the story gains speed, it was impossible for me to put it down. So many questions needed answering and as Mary delved deeper into the Palace, she came across more than one threat. Lee has done a beautiful job at creating real tension and danger to Mary without it seeming sensational or unrealistic. Mary uses her wits to get her out of these situations, one of my favorite things about the detective.

The encounters between Mary and James made my heart smile, swoon, break and do it all over again. Their relationship is far from perfect, but they balance each other out, each clever, smart and stubborn in their own ways, driving the other mad with admiration, love and passion. A perfect match I say! Bravo to Lee for creating James and Mary, a couple who push and push each other, making their partner a better person. This is a healthy, strong relationship you will want to root for.

If you haven’t read the other Agency books, what are you waiting for? It’s one of the best underrated series. Everyone should be reading them!

And as for this third installment, you can pick it up without reading the first two. Go on. A classic mystery awaits!

Rating 10 One of The Best



Author Interview with Y.S. Lee!













Thank you so much for stopping by! 


What inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve always been obsessed with words and stories. But growing up, I never thought seriously about becoming a writer: it seemed too impossible even to aim for, so I settled for academia (I was going to be an English professor) as the next best thing. As I finished my PhD, though, I realized that I didn’t want to be an academic. It felt like my last chance to try writing fiction before I had to choose another career. So I sat down and wrote the novel that became the first Agency novel, A Spy in the House.

What was the last book you read?
The Chinese Maze Murders, by Robert van Gulik – an old-school mystery written in the style of classical Chinese detective fiction.

What sparked the idea of your books?
I knew I wanted to write about Victorian London and was especially interested in exploring it from the perspective of a young, poor, rebellious girl. Once I had my setting and my main character, things unfolded very quickly. I’d read about Lascars (Asian sailors) who ended up settling in England and marrying white English women, and I began to wonder about the families of these mixed-race couples. I was also distressed by the typical fate of a poor girl who didn’t have much education. (If she was good and meek, she might find work as a housemaid or in a factory. She had a high chance of dying young, either of malnutrition, disease, or a childbirth-related illness.) Creating the Agency, a super-secret corps of female spies, was a kind of antidote, or counter-argument, to the depressing realities of life in Victorian London.

You have a PhD in Victorian literature and culture. Is that why you chose the setting and time for your novel to be in the Victorian era?
Absolutely. I was doing a lot of research into nineteenth-century politics and culture and found that I wanted to learn more about the daily lives of the Victorians – how they ate and bathed and amused themselves. These things had no place in my dissertation, and I wanted to find a home for them. I chose the setting first; the mystery element came later. I tend to be inspired by particular events in history – for example, I knew that the Great Stink of 1858 just had to be the backdrop for A Spy in the House – and then fit the rest of the story around them.

James and Mary have real chemistry together. The banter back and forth is equally charming and real. Are their scenes together your favorite to write?
Thank you! Yes, you guessed it – I love, love, love writing dialogue between Mary and James. It’s like dessert. Sometimes, I use it like an incentive: if I write a certain amount of something else, I get to write a big chunk of Mary’s and James’s next conversation.

What was the biggest challenge writing your novel?
For each novel I’ve written, I’ve become sick of it when two-thirds of the way through the first draft. The story seems dull, the premise ridiculous, the characters wooden. Pushing through that slump and finishing a full draft is the hardest part, for me.

How do you like your potato?
French-fried! Skinny, very crisp, nicely browned, with plenty of salt, please. (No, I’m not picky. Why do you ask?)

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Ooh, this is tough. I think I’d still be a writer, but an unpublished, aspiring one with a day job (any day job) that kept body and soul together.

Do you have a favorite literary character?
I have so many! My favourite detective is Peter Wimsey; my favourite Austen heroine is (of course) Elizabeth Bennet; my favourite bossy, intrepid, neo-Victorian dame is Amelia Peabody Emerson.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
At the moment, I mostly wrangle small children and steal time to read. At other stages of my life, however, I’ve been passionate about yoga, baking, crafting, and community politics. I plan to find my way back to all these things one day!

What is one thing you would tell aspiring writers?
You have to be a reader before you can be a writer. Read widely and deeply, and remember to leave your comfort zone.

What is your next book about and when is it coming out? My next book is the fourth and final Mary Quinn novel, called Rivals in the City. It’s set just a few months after Traitor and in it, we’ll meet an all-too-familiar villain, as well as someone with a claim on Mary’s life and family. I’m still writing it, so there’s no official pub date yet. But I’ll keep you updated at my blog! 



Thank you again for stopping by Y.S. Lee!
You can visit Y.S. Lee here or follow her on twitter @yinglee

Posted February 23, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 4 Comments


Author Interview & Book Review: Firelight by Kristen Callihan

Posted February 2, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 11 Comments

Title: Firelight

Author: Kristen Callihan

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Publication Date: February 2012

Genre: Adult Historical Romance/Paranormal/Mystery

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One

Synopsis can be found here.
Netgalley review.

Review:
One way to know a book is amazing – Every little interruption to your reading annoys you to no end. That’s what I felt about this book.

I mean, do I have to sleep? Overrated. Who is calling? No, I’ll call them back. I’m busy, here people! Busy, Busy Busy! Reading this wonderful novel!

Miranda Ellis has a secret she’s not willing to share with anyone. With her father ruined, she is to marry the mysterious and deadly Lord Archer, a man who is said to be so disformed, he wears a full mask even at home. But when Miranda meets him, she sees not a monster but a damaged man searching for redemption. Can he find it? And at what cost?

There are so many wonderful things about this book. The setting is London in the late 1800s. The dark streets and even darker characters whisk through the book like mist. Happily, I wasn’t clear until the very end knowing who was friend and who was foe. The older language flows effortlessly across the page. I love the dialogue between Miranda and Archer. Miranda is strong, smart and gets into trouble, all traits I adore. Archer is more than a typical Romance hero. Yes, he’s built strong and mysterious, but there’s more. There’s an underlying sadness to him, making him whole.

And yes, a few scenes in this book are steamy! There is a lot of chemistry between these two characters. They’re not romantic lead cookie cut outs. This book contains so much more than just romance. Danger, Adventure, Murder all with a paranormal element lurking beneath the surface.

There are mysteries everywhere and Callihan’s writing is superb. Just when you think you may have it figured out, anothe rone pops up! Someone is killing Archer’s friends. All roads lead to back to Archer. Is he innocent and can Miranda save him? Excellent pacing and an all around fun book.

I’m delighted to know this is the beginning of a series.
Ms. Callihan, please write faster!


Rating 10 One of The Best




Author Interview with Kristen Callihan!



What inspired you to become a writer?
Two things. First: I had what I called a young-life crisis. Don’t laugh; it’s true. :) I was out of college, and in a 9 to 5 job that I hated, and it hit me that I was an adult. Only, I’d always thought when I was an adult, I’d be doing something I loved. Since I didn’t know what that was, enter crisis. In crisis mode, I read a lot of books –for comfort.
Second: I read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Here was this wonderful mishmash of genres. And I thought, wouldn’t that be fun? To just write whatever story I wanted, regardless of the rules? So I tried it myself. It was like falling in love. I never looked back.

What was the last book you read?
Checking Kindle… Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale. Gutting, as only her books can be. The last paper book I read was Lothaire. Yes, I love Kresley Cole so much that I bought the hardback. :) Loved it.

What sparked the idea of your book?
My daughter was watching Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and I began to think what if…? It took off from there.

Your novel is set in Victorian London and is a gothic retelling of Beauty and the Beast. What research or material did you draw from to create this retelling?
Well, the ideas were rushing in pretty quickly, and the story was laying itself out for me in short order, but just to reacquaint myself, I did go online to read a few of the older versions of Beauty and the Beast, as well as the Norwegian fairytale that inspired it, East of the Sun and West of the Moon.
As for other research, I did hours of trolling about for information on the Victorian era and London circa 1881. One thing I loathed to do was get the facts wrong. I’m resigned in knowing that I’ll probably get some things off -100% accuracy is harder than it looks- but I try my hardest to learn all I can.

  

I love Miranda’s bravery and cleverness. What are your favorite things about Miranda?
I love that about her too. :) I also love her loyalty, and the fact that she will make her own decisions about a person rather than be swayed by the crowd.

Archer is just so incredibly delicious! How did you create his character?
I’m glad you think so! :)
I put myself in his shoes. How would I feel if I was forced to live behind a mask? How would I feel if the world hated me? Or if I loved someone so much, I couldn’t stay away, even if it meant I would lose out in the end.
But I also knew that Archer had to be a mystery as well. The whole plot would tumble like a house of cards if I gave away too much of him. And in romance, this is hard because the reader expects to get inside the hero’s head. But obviously Archer knows what’s going on. So what to do? I decided to put Archer’s attentions on the here and now. His focus is tight, get the girl, save the girl, stop the killings.
In the end, this probably helped with his appeal because we love a mysterious man that is just begging to be unraveled.

Is he a real person?
Only in my head. :)

I have some single girlfriends. Can I get his number? 
LOL. Unfortunately, he lives in a time without telephones. You’re welcome to call on him. But I’d stay clear of Miranda. She’s quite possessive, and I wouldn’t want to tangle with her!

What was the biggest challenge writing your novel?
Revisions. Revisions are hard because you have to pull the whole plot into tight focus. I had to cut many words to get it down to the publisher’s requirements, which wasn’t easy. And I had to make sure the mystery plot made sense. Heh. My editor pointed out that a lot of things that seemed obvious to me just weren’t to readers. So I had to go back and finesse certain points.

How do you like your potato?
I’m half Irish, don’t you know. I like my potatoes like Bubba Gump likes his shrimp…fried, boiled, baked, scalloped, mashed…

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Bored. Lol.

Do you have a favorite literary character?
Oh, that’s too hard! I love so many. But if pressed, I’d say Harry Potter. I got to live with him for seven books. I admire his bravery, loyalty, and compassion.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
Sleep. Read, take care of my kids, cook, think about writing, hang out with my husband, sleep…

What is one thing you would tell aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. Sounds like a platitude, but it’s true. Most writers fail because they give up. It’s a hard life, and rejection is everywhere. But if you love it, don’t give that away because of the opinion of others.

Moonglow, Darkest London #2, arrives August 2012. What do you want us readers to know about it?
This is Daisy’s story. Daisy is Miranda’s vivacious and outspoken sister who, in Firelight, has been forced into an unhappy marriage with a much older man. Even before I knew I would write her story, I knew two things about Daisy: she loves men, and she hides a lot of her pain under her carefree guise.
(Heh. Living through inner pain and feeling at odds with the world are themes I like to explore)
In Moonglow, Daisy is widowed and wants to find her own adventure. Unfortunately for her, adventure comes in spades as a mad werewolf takes a liking to her, and her only savior is another werewolf, the charming yet cunning Ian Ranulf –a man who would rather do anything other than give in to his inner beast.
In Firelight, Archer was the true mystery. But I didn’t want to write the same story over again. So while Moonglow has a mystery, it harkens more to the classic Victorian horror structure in which good must match wits with evil. 



Thank you so much for stopping by Kristen!
You can find Kristen’s blog here or follow her on Twitter: @Kris10Callihan

Posted February 2, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 11 Comments


Book Review: May B by Caroline Starr Rose

Posted January 3, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Title: May B

Author: Caroline Starr Rose

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Publication Date: January 2012

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.
Netgalley review.

Review:
May B is sent away from her loving family to become a maid/helper at her neighbor’s Kansas prairie home. Miles away, she is left to care of a husband and his homesick bitter wife. But one day, May finds herself alone, abandoned and left in this unfamiliar place. She’s stuck in a blizzard with no one to help her, except herself.
This story told in prose was a real treat. May’s thoughts were beautifully expressed through the writing. The lyrical worlds added an extra sense of wonderment. Every thought was important, and leant itself nicely towards May’s memories.
May B’s growth as a character is a natural and easy progression. She is a child when she goes there and within a short amount of time, she has to take care of herself. Not only physically, but she must also face and overcome her own challenges.
The setting is also it’s own character. As we wander through May’s mind, the blizzard and trials of living alone, forgotten, in a cabin become very real and frightening. She is running out of food. She is forced to do something drastic. She must venture into territory she has never known before. The little girl is gone.

A quick enjoyable read that kept me reading page after page, past bedtime. I was deeply rooted to May and her survival. I think you will be too.

Rating 7 Pretty Cool Would Recommend

Posted January 3, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 2 Comments