Tag: #historicalfiction

“Last Stop in Brooklyn” by Lawrence H. Levy

“Last Stop in Brooklyn” by Lawrence H. Levy

New York in the 1890’s. Mary Handley has made a career for herself as a private investigator and she has no interest in her mother’s wish for her to get married and settle down. Harper Lloyd is an investigative reporter. These two cross paths when Mary is asked to investigate the murder of a prostitute that occurred three years earlier. The police have tried and convicted their man but his brother wants Mary to prove his innocence. Mary is convinced after she reads the trial transcript and realizes that the immigrant from Algeria, with poor English skills, was railroaded and embarks on a search for the real killer.

This book is the 3rd in the series but the first that I have read. I really enjoyed how the author brought Victorian New York to life with his descriptions of the city. The book also addresses some compelling social issues which are still relevant in our current culture. The story had quite a few twists and some gripping moments which kept it lively and engaging. Mary Handley is the star of this show and I found her delightful. She’s not willing to follow “the plan” that society dictates for young women, unless she wants to. of course. I found her to be an intelligent investigator and very resourceful. Her relationship with Harper is quite entertaining and not your typical romance. This story is based on actual events of the time and features several real persons throughout. I think lovers of historical fiction and mysteries will enjoy this one.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  3-5-star-rating 3.5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

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Thank you to Penguin Books and First to Read for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

“The Tea Planter’s Wife” by Dinah Jefferies

“The Tea Planter’s Wife” by Dinah Jefferies

Journey to 1920’s Ceylon in this deeply engrossing family drama. Gwendolyn, a young Englishwoman, marries Laurence, the owner of a tea plantation in Ceylon, and travels there to begin their life together. She knows his first wife has died but he is reluctant to share details with her. Gwen loves the home that she now finds herself in charge of and gradually takes over the running of the household. Before long she finds herself pregnant and the two eagerly anticipate the arrival of the child. But there are secrets in this household and forces determined to undermine them.

This drama covers the first 10 years of Gwen and Laurence’s marriage and follows them through the challenges of life as plantation owners. The story touches on issues of discrimination and the changes taking place in the culture at the time. I thought the author did a great job of navigating these issues in a way that doesn’t distract from the story but is an integral part of it. Gwendolyn is a lovely young lady who is dropped into a completely different culture and the job of running a large household at the tender age of 19. She must carefully navigate some very troubled waters but comes out stronger every time. Laurence is a good man but he has his flaws and all of this comes out in the book. I felt like I really got to know these two in an intimate way throughout the story. Finally, the author gives wonderful descriptions of the foliage and landscape of Ceylon. This is a sweeping story that takes the reader from England to Ceylon to New York and back again. Really well done!

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-star-rating 4 stars!!

Happy Reading!

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Thank you to Blogging for Books and Broadway Books for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

“Carnegie’s Maid” by Marie Benedict

“Carnegie’s Maid” by Marie Benedict

Clara Kelley has been sent to America by her family in impoverished Ireland. Their hope is that she will find work and be able to send money home to support the family, as they have recently lost their land source of income. When she arrives she finds herself being mistaken for a different Clara Kelley who already has a job waiting for her. Clara decides to become this other Clara Kelley and finds herself in Pittsburgh working on a trial basis as lady’s maid to Andrew Carnegie’s mother.  Mrs. Carnegie is known to be a harsh mistress but Clara is determined to win her over. In the process she meets Andrew and the two instantly hit it off as friends. The story follows Clara through her years working in the Carnegie household and the influence she had on Andrew and his charitable work.

I loved this story. I have previously read another book by this author and was really excited about this one. It did not disappoint. The author masterfully created her characters with rich detail and her descriptions of the city of Pittsburgh in the time period are perfect. I was easily drawn into the both the affluent world of the Carnegies and the impoverished world of Clara’s cousins. This is another fabulous story from Marie Benedict and I highly recommend it.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  5-star-rating  5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

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Book Review:  “A Charleston Yankee” by Michael Mercurio

Book Review: “A Charleston Yankee” by Michael Mercurio

Goodreads blurb:
Amid the turbulent 1960s arises an intriguing tale of love, betrayal, and death in the ever-historic Charleston, South Carolina. As marine maverick Mike Romano steps off the naval base, he has no inkling of what civilian life has in store for him. After retrieving his wife from his hometown of New York City, he launches a new career as an insurance salesman, with a fire for putting the past behind him and achieving great success.

But Mike quickly finds himself hawking burial insurance and collecting weekly premiums in a predominately black ghetto. This isn’t what he had envisioned, but the exposure ignites a different kind of internal flame—one that is quiet but strong. It gets him involved in a political group intent on positive social change, which introduces him to a fascinating, wealthy, older woman with high political ambitions who sets her sights on him. As his involvement in the civil rights movement intensifies, so does the groundswell against the Vietnam War. Tensions rise along with racial hostility, murders, bombings, and burnings, and Mike soon realizes that America is no longer the country he once swore to defend.

Experience these historical and iconic events, through the life of one passionate man in search of personal fulfillment and public justice.

My thoughts:
I found this story to be a fascinating look at a critical time in our nation’s history. Not having grown up in the south, I have to say I was rather blissfully unaware of the issues of racism and prejudice in our country until as an adult I went to school in Tennessee. I found Mike to be very effective at delineating the issues when he and his wife faced them. Since he was from New York, and in the beginning of the story, new to Charleston, I think he was able to see the broader picture and how the mindset of segregation in the South was holding back the forward movement of the country. I also think that given what our country is going through now, it is nice to be reminded of the progress that we have made and the struggle we went through to get this far. The author did a great job not only with presenting the themes of the story, but also of describing Charleston as it was at the time, from the sweeping mansions to the tenements, the reader gets a view of the whole of the city. I would recommend this book to any reader of fiction and lovers of a good story.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

Happy Reading!

Available on Amazon

Book Review: “By Helen’s Hand” by Amalia Carosella

Book Review: “By Helen’s Hand” by Amalia Carosella

The Greek demigod Helen comes to life under the skillful craftsmanship of Amalia Carosella. This book is the second in the author’s series about Helen of Sparta. “By Helen’s Hand” picks up Helen’s story at the point where she has been rescued by her brothers from the city of Athens. While in Athens she had married Theseus and become queen of that city. Helen is still determined to choose her own fate instead of letting the gods dictate her destiny. She convinces her father to host a series of competitions for the men who wish to marry her. It is Helen’s hope that the winner will be anybody other than Menelaus, but the gods intervene again and she finds herself in a loveless marriage, desperately hoping that Theseus will return from Hades to rescue her. Will Helen be able to thwart the will of the gods, or will her nightmares, full of violence and destruction, come true?

I really enjoyed how the author brought the myth of Helen to life. She gave her a depth of character and conviction that the myths, in their brevity, can never convey. The story itself has lots of surprises and twists thrown in to keep the reader guessing, until the end, what the final outcome will be. This is the first book by this author that I have read but I will definitely be looking for more from her. This book is an obvious choice for lovers of Greek mythology but I think any reader who enjoys intrigue and drama in an historical setting will find lots to like in this book.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

Happy Reading!

Available from Amazon

Project Gutenberg Pick!

Book Review: “Winesburg, Ohio: Intimate histories of everyday people” by Sherwood Anderson

Every once in a while I like to read something old but still good. This book was originally published in 1922 and is now available for free on Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org). I found the stories in this book to be delightful. Each story depicts the life of a different member of the community of Winesburg, Ohio. Winesberg is a rural community but also the county seat and host to the annual county fair. What draws the stories together is that each individual portrayed has some kind of encounter with George Willard, a young man whose parents run the local hotel. George works as a reporter for the local paper. The book is a work of fiction but I couldn’t help but think that at least some of these characters are based on real people. The individuals are male and female, young and old, and many are downright eccentric. They are wealthy and poor, and of high and low social standing. And there are plenty of scandals running through this group.

The author’s writing style is very readable and I thoroughly enjoyed the stories. If you are looking for something a little different to read, I would suggest this book. I find it can be refreshing to take a break from the drama that tends to characterize modern day books, and there are some real gems in these old books.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

Happy Reading!

Get it on Project Gutenberg!

Book Review: “The Devil’s Grin” by A. Wendenberg

Book Review: “The Devil’s Grin” by A. Wendenberg

Dr. Anton Kronberg is a bacteriologist and epidemiologist in 1889 London. He receives a message requesting his presence at the site where a dead body has been found. Cholera is suspected, hence the need for Dr. Kronberg. But another type of detective is also on site. None other than the infamous Sherlock Holmes. The two, reluctantly at first, agree to work together to determine the circumstances of the man’s death. Their plan is a complex one which will involve danger for both of them, and take Dr. Kronberg to Berlin and back. They are up against some very powerful and secretive adversaries but this will deter them from the pursuit of truth.

I just loved this book! Dr. Anton Kronberg works to solve a mystery while himself being a mystery. The character is delightful and intriguing. I found the author’s interpretation of Sherlock to be equally as engaging. The plot is complex and full of enough twists to keep any mystery lover guessing. If you love historical mysteries and/or Sherlock Holmes, don’t let this one get away!

Alinefromabook’s rating: TWO THUMBS-UP!

Happy Reading!

View on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1UvZDeM

Book Review: “An Angel Healed” by Annalisa Russo

Book Review: “An Angel Healed” by Annalisa Russo

Raphael Cavelli has been running away from heartbreak for 7 years. When he finally returns home to his family in Chicago, he’s in the throes of malaria. With the help of his sisters, he’s finally on the road to recovery when the girl who broke his heart suddenly reappears. He knows her immediately and all the intensity of his love for her returns. But she doesn’t remember every having met him before. Hope was left homeless and without family at the age of 16. She spent six months living in a shelter that is supported by the Cavelli family, than she just left. Rafe had been doing odd jobs at the place during the time she was there but never introduced himself. Now he is determined to win her over and make her his wife. But first, he will have to clear her of a murder charge. Can Rafe and Hope overcome the obstacles and finally make a family together?

This book is the second in a series but also stands on its own. The characters of Rafe and Hope were so likable right from the beginning and just kept growing on me as I read. The Cavelli family is a wonderful support system for these two as their relationship progresses. The story is engaging from the start and you can’t help but root for these two.

Alinefromabook’s recommendation: THUMBS-UP for a great love story with a little mystery thrown in. A worthy read!

Happy Reading!

To purchase click here: http://astore.amazon.com/alinefromab00-20/detail/1628304936

Book Review: “Enchanted Islands” by Allison Amend

Book Review: “Enchanted Islands” by Allison Amend

Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for the ARC of this book. This book is scheduled for publication in May 2016. It can be preordered on Amazon by clicking the image below.

“Enchanted Islands” is as enchanting a story as the islands it describes. This is a fictionalized account of the journals written by Frances Conway about her life, particularly the years she spent as a spy on the Galapagos Islands. Allison Amend is a brilliant writer. This story completely captured my imagination from page one to the final word. I loved the characters of Frances and Ainslie; their relationship was fascinating. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good story.

Happy Reading!

“1929” by M. L. Gardner

“1929” by M. L. Gardner

An absolutely fabulous read! I loved every minute of it.

1929 is the story of three couples and their fight for survival after the Market crashes. Jon, Aryl and Caleb have been inseparable friends since childhood. They’ve grown up together, been at each other’s weddings and built their own brokerage firm. They and their wives are living the high life with fancy houses, fancy cars and fancy clothes. And then, in the blink of an eye, it’s all gone. They are left with only the case they have stashed at home. In a matter of a couple of days they have moved into tenement apartments, owned by their biggest enemy.

The wives, Ava, Claire, and Arianna, know nothing about taking care of a home or cooking or doing laundry and must learn the hard way. Meanwhile, the husbands are forced to take jobs working on the loading docks. The humiliation of it almost destroys one of them. As they desperately try to find a way to get back on their feet, it seems that fate just keeps throwing them punches.

This is one of the best stories I have read in a long time. This is the first in a series and I can’t wait to keep reading. M. L. Gardner has created characters with complexity and depth. I was especially impressed with her dialogue; every discussion or fight amongst the characters was so true to life that I really felt like a fly on the wall in the homes of these people. The twists and turns kept me fully engaged in the story and were so realistic that it seemed like it could be happening to me.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough, especially if you like historical fiction. The author has captured the struggles of the period with an expertise that makes an historical reference point into the experience of real people. After reading this book I feel as if I have made a whole bunch of new friends and look forward to seeing where their journey takes them in the additional books in the series.

Happy Reading!

To purchase click on the image below: