A wonderful, lush, lyrical fairy tale of two sisters in a Jewish community in turmoil. Liba and Laya have been brought up in a strict Jewish community even though their parents have been considered outsiders and they live in the woods instead of in the village. When their parents are called away for an emergency they share their secret heritage with the girls and tell them to be careful but go on as though nothing has happened. Both girls are in the cusp of womanhood and soon find boys they fall for even if they aren't sure if their choices will go over with their parents, the village and if their secret will remain just that. Trouble soon comes calling and the village is plagued with several murders which set off racial tensions and a witch hunt. The lush language combined with the earthy old European tales full of danger and magic make for a delightful fairy tale of men and women who are transformed into swans, bears, and goblins as well as the dangers of forbidden love. There is also an underlying story of racial hatred based on rumors and ignorance or fear that feels reminiscent of the wars and politics to come. This is a must-read for lovers of "The Bear and the Nightingale" and old world fairy tale remakes.
Washington Black by Esi Edugyann
What begins as a classic story of slavery morphs into the story of a remarkable man born into slavery but given a chance for greatness. Washington Black (Wash) is as fortunate as he can be as a slave in the islands to be noticed by Christopher Wilde, an Aeronautical Engineer (well before his time), who pulls him out of the fields to assist him with his flying machine and other scientific work. Wilde befriends him and encourages Wash to develop his studies, drawing and seeking freedom. Something happens, causing Wilde and Wash to flee to Virginia, then the Arctic and Nova Scotia. After Wilde disappears suddenly, Wash will spend the majority of his life searching for the man he considers a friend and mentor. It is only later that Wash begins to question Wilde's motives and the connection he has with this strange family. The language and the man are gentle and forgiving but the subject matter and the injustice at the hands of white men are brutal. This is a story of finding yourself through other's eyes. It is about the white man's inability to understand what it meant to be black in their world. Even well-meaning people took advantage of Wash in that even free he did not have the right to his own inventions and scientific discoveries and did not receive credit.
Lies by T.M. Logan
You know the story - nice husband with his young son in the car sees his beautiful wife talking heatedly to a friend at a hotel. You know the story will go downhill from there. The husband will find out that his life has been a lie. You think Joe is either the most naive man or unlucky soul on earth. It could all just be lies. Intense and diabolical - this thriller with a surprise ending will have you rethinking what you thought you saw.
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
We have all played the game. What five people would you want to have dinner with? Sabrina finds herself on her 30th birthday with the five people she named on her list- her best friend, deadbeat dad, past lover, favorite Professor and Audrey Hepburn. They all have influenced her life and she should be enjoying herself but it feels more like a tough love intervention. Can Sabrina in the course of one evening make peace with or be entertained by the most important people in her life? As the reader discovers the guest's role in her life you will laugh, cry and be totally absorbed by this delight of a book. I guarantee you will be writing your own list down from page one.
Ah, the persistent, witty, determined "always get her man" Deputy Constance Kopp. Having to prove herself over and over again to her male colleagues, the press, and multiple critics, she still pushes on. This time she is tackling a case of a housewife whose husband has her committed to an insane asylum every time he wants some breathing room at home for his extracurricular activities. Feeling that this woman has been treated unjustly she tries to have her released only to meet a brick wall of resistance from the press, her boss's harshest critics and those political candidates running against her police chief boss and friend. 1916 was not an easy time for women - be it a wife, convict or jailer but Deputy Kopp shows heart and grit. Fans of the early days of women's independence and novels like THE ALIENIST will fall for this great series.
The Biggerers by Amy Lilwall
I should be honest enough to admit that I had trouble reading this book because there were just so many names and too many voices in my head. It is a very dark dystopian look at the future of pets - in the form of warm and cuddly little mini-versions of ourselves. Jinx and Bonbon don't speak, they are really cute and don't require much maintenance except a coat in winter much to the delight of their owner couple, Susan and Hamish. While I really enjoyed the Littler spin on their world I really didn't like the Biggerer adult couple at all. This is not your average BORROWERS or GULLIVER'S TRAVELS but a darker look at how we treat creatures (even if they are modeled after humans). Readers who enjoy a slightly quirky and dark look at the future of cloning and the sad fate of mankind will enjoy this debut.
When a merchant learns that one of his Captains traded his ship for a curiosity he can't believe it but then sees the power and money to be made from showcasing his mummified mermaid. His fortune assured he is then approached by a high-class madam who wants to rent the mermaid in an attempt at setting her house apart from the other establishments. Mr. Hancock cannot say no to the income this little venture will bring in but is put off by the type of establishment. One of the more refined women there begins to flirt with Mr. Hancock seeing him for the benefactor she needs to keep her lavish lifestyle going. She jokingly demands that Mr. Hancock find her a mermaid as well and the dutifully lovesick man complies. The language feels authentic and the story blends together not only the wealthy London society's fascination with curiosities but also the interesting world of the well-off and their relationships. The symbolism of the mythical sea sirens and the Courtesans creates a believable historical gem of a debut.
The Lost Queen by Signe Pike
A classic pre-Arthur period novel about lineage, politics, love, and king-making. This is the first of what I hope will be multiple novels which explore the very early history of the British Isles and the Pendragon name. Men may lead others into battle and hold all the power but it is the women like Lanuoreth who make decisions that will save the family. A doomed love affair between Languoreth and Maelgwn will pit families against each other and test political alliances. Languoreth will wed the powerful man to whom she is pledged but must also save her brother and continue the line of seers from which she came. For all fans of British history, this story also has just enough politics and drama to satisfy those hungry for more "Game of Thrones" and "The Last Kingdom.
Sarah Bird presents a historical novel of epic proportions - the portrait of a fierce African American woman whose lineage was a line of proud African queens. Cathy Williams is liberated at the end of the war by Yankee soldiers and separated from her sister she joins them in various roles until she sees her chance - joining the Buffalo Soldiers and heading out West. She disguises herself and Cathy Williams becomes Bill Cathey. As a man, Cathy has all the freedom and adventure she was denied as a woman but it is a daily struggle to remain in her disguise. Prejudice, racial hatred, violence follows Cathy in her travels but what she yearns for are acceptance, kinship, and love.
This book has it all - great characters, an authentic voice and the amazing adventures of a black woman in a white man's world.
When three wonderful authors collaborate on a book you don't even look at the title, you just grab it and dig in. The Lusitania sailed for England when war seems just around the corner and German U-Boats were patrolling the waters more thickly than sharks. The passengers were told that the ship was faster and not to worry. Aboard this magnificent ship, there were many types of passengers and this story is about some of them. A secret love affair, a plot to forge an unknown piece of music, espionage and a chance for a better life are expertly woven into this novel. The descendants of some of the players, Sarah Blake and John Langford head up the modern-day search for what really happened during that voyage. The two timelines are told in alternating chapters so that you are discovering the secrets as they are. Terrific historical fiction with a war mystery and a pinch of romance - escape to the doomed Lusitania.
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