reviews

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

My real name, no one remembers.
The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the depths of a nineteenth-century winter, a little girl is abandoned in the narrow streets of London. Adopted by a mysterious stranger, she becomes in turn a thief, a friend, a muse, and a lover. Then, in the summer of 1862, shortly after her eighteenth birthday, she retreats with a group of artists to a beautiful house on a quiet bend of the Upper Thames . . . Tensions simmer and one hot afternoon a gun-shot rings out. A woman is killed, another disappears, and the truth of what happened slips through the cracks of time.
Over the next century and beyond, Birchwood Manor welcomes many newcomers but guards its secret closely – until another young woman is drawn to visit the house because of a family secret of her own . . .

As the mystery of The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton begins to unravel, we discover the stories of those who have passed through Birchwood Manor since that fateful day in 1862. Intricately layered and richly atmospheric, it shows that, sometimes, the only way forward is through the past. (goodreads)

The book follows many people through time, from 1862 to 2017, who have some connection to a house called Birchwood Manor. Elodie is an archivist who finds an old satchel with a photograph of a woman inside it. She’s determined to find out who it had belonged and who the woman is.

I don’t really know what to say about this. The book started a bit slow and was quite hard to get into but then suddenly it got better. I’m not usually a huge fan of the “present-day” pov’s but here it was my fav and I enjoyed Elodie’s story most. I didn’t mind the time changed, it was well stated where we were, but there could have been fewer characters to keep track of.

While this wasn’t bad, it certainly wasn’t as good as the previous books I’ve read by the author. I would suggest this isn’t the first book to try by this author.

3/5

Published: Mantle (September 20, 2018)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 596
Source: Library

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A King Under Siege by Mercedes Rochelle spotlight

A King Under Siege by Mercedes Rochelle

Publication Date: January 5, 2019
Sergeant Press
eBook & Paperback; 310 Pages

Series: The Plantagenet Legacy, Book One
Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical

 

 

Richard II found himself under siege not once, but twice in his minority. Crowned king at age ten, he was only fourteen when the Peasants’ Revolt terrorized London. But he proved himself every bit the Plantagenet successor, facing Wat Tyler and the rebels when all seemed lost. Alas, his triumph was short-lived, and for the next ten years he struggled to assert himself against his uncles and increasingly hostile nobles. Just like in the days of his great-grandfather Edward II, vengeful magnates strove to separate him from his friends and advisors, and even threatened to depose him if he refused to do their bidding. The Lords Appellant, as they came to be known, purged the royal household with the help of the Merciless Parliament. They murdered his closest allies, leaving the King alone and defenseless. He would never forget his humiliation at the hands of his subjects. Richard’s inability to protect his adherents would haunt him for the rest of his life, and he vowed that next time, retribution would be his.

“This story is rich in historical detail. It has so obviously been meticulously researched. I cannot but commend Rochelle for this exceptional work of scholarship. A King Under Siege: Book One of The Plantagenet Legacy is one of those books that once started is impossible to put down. This book is filled with non-stop action. There are enough plots and conspiracies to satisfy any lover of historical fiction. This is storytelling at its very best.” Mary Anne Yarde from Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots Blog

About the Author

Born and raised in St. Louis MO, Mercedes Rochelle graduated with a degree in English literature from the University of Missouri. Mercedes learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. A move to New York to do research and two careers ensued, but writing fiction remains her primary vocation. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

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Review at bookramblings
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Interview at Passages to the Past

 

reviews

The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood

The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates 1) by A. K. Larkwood

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does—she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn—gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due. (publisher)

Csorwe is an Oshaaru and her people worship the Unspoken One. Csorwe is a Chosen Bride, someone who will be sacrificed to the god on her 14th birthday. But on the day of the sacrifice, a stranger called Belthandros Sethennai makes her an offer that she can’t refuse and helps her to run away.

Sethennai is a wizard in exile and has his own reasons for helping Csorwe; she can help him to return to his land.

I have mixed feelings about this one. It had good things and then the not so good things. But it’s not a bad book by any means, especially for a debut.

I liked the world-building and it’s impressive but there is quite much to take in. The book is divided into several parts and I liked the first part most where it focuses on young Csorwe. But the transitions between parts were somewhat awkward with time-jumps. Fast forward a few years and suddenly she is all trained to fight. Then 5 years have passed, and she has worked with Tal for 5 years and they hate each other. We’re missing huge chunks of her life and I didn’t connect with her, or the others, because so much happens behind the scenes. It just made me detached from the characters.

It dragged a bit in the middle and I felt the book could have been shorter. And if I’m honest, the most boring thing was Csorwe’s love-interest Shuthmili. She’s a super talented wizard who must be kept safe. And who had a non-existing personality. I just couldn’t understand why her?

I realize that I’m making it sound worse than it was because it wasn’t bad. There were lots of good things in it. But I really wanted to like it more. And since this was a debut book, I’m interested to see where the author will go from here.

3/5

Published: Tor Books (February 11, 2020)
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

reviews

The Light After the War by Anita Abriel

The Light After the War by Anita Abriel

It is 1946 when Vera Frankel and her best friend Edith Ban arrive in Naples. Refugees from Hungary, they managed to escape from a train headed for Auschwitz and spent the rest of the war hiding on an Austrian farm. Now, the two young women must start new lives abroad. Armed with a letter of recommendation from an American officer, Vera finds work at the United States embassy where she falls in love with Captain Anton Wight.

But as Vera and Edith grapple with the aftermath of the war, so too does Anton, and when he suddenly disappears, Vera is forced to change course. Their quest for a better life takes Vera and Edith from Naples to Ellis Island to Caracas as they start careers, reunite with old friends, and rebuild their lives after terrible loss.

Moving, evocative, and compelling, this timely tale of true friendship, love, and survival will stay with you long after you turn the final page. (publisher)

Vera and Edith are two Hungarian Jews who escape a train bound to a concentration camp. They end up in Austria, hiding in a freezing barn. After the war, hearing none of their families survived, they go to first to Naples then Ellis Island and finally Caracas, Venezuela. There they try settling to live and find job, love, and sorrow.

What I found interesting was that it was set in the aftermath of the war and seeing the refugees trying to find life after the Holocaust. The only thing about the war is through flashbacks. The story is based on the experiences of the author’s mother. And I’m wondering how much is true and how much fiction. Because the book felt more like romance than historical fiction and there were just too many coincidences to be believable.

It was an easy and quick read and I loved reading about the aftermath of the war. And how people were trying to learn how to go on with life after such horrific times.

3,5/5

Published: Atria Books (February 4, 2020)
Format: ebook
Source: Publisher

reviews

Cartier’s Hope by M. J. Rose

Cartier’s Hope by M. J. Rose

New York, 1910: A city of extravagant balls in Fifth Avenue mansions and poor immigrants crammed into crumbling Lower East Side tenements. A city where the suffrage movement is growing stronger every day, but most women reporters are still delegated to the fashion and lifestyle pages. But Vera Garland is set on making her mark in a man’s world of serious journalism.

Shortly after the world-famous Hope Diamond is acquired for a record sum, Vera begins investigating rumors about schemes by its new owner, jeweler Pierre Cartier, to manipulate its value. Vera is determined to find the truth behind the notorious diamond and its legendary curses—even better when the expose puts her in the same orbit as a magazine publisher whose blackmailing schemes led to the death of her beloved father.

Appealing to a young Russian jeweler for help, Vera is unprepared when she begins falling in love with him…and even more unprepared when she gets caught up in his deceptions and finds herself at risk of losing all she has worked so hard to achieve.

Set against the backdrop of New York’s glitter and grit, of ruthless men and the atrocities they commit in the pursuit of power, this enthralling historical novel explores our very human needs for love, retribution—and to pursue one’s destiny, regardless of the cost. (publisher)

Vera Garland is grieving the loss of her father. When she is clearing her father’s things, Vera finds some letters that reveal a family secret. While trying to get revenge, she befriends Jacob Asher, a jeweler, who has secrets of his own.

Born to a privileged life, Vera wants to work as a journalist and feels strongly about the suffragette movement and women getting the right to vote and getting paid the same as men. Vera has a troubled relationship with her mother, a society matron, who doesn’t understand her choice to work.

Vera was an intelligent, sometimes impulsive feminist who was ahead of her times within her circles. I liked her but didn’t always agree with her decisions. I would have liked to learn more of a fellow journalist, but I liked Asher and Vera’s lawyer cousin Stephen.

While I enjoyed the book, I feel it didn’t live up to her previous books. But I haven’t read a book by her that I didn’t like.

3,5/5

Published: Atria Books (January 28, 2020)
Format: ebook
Source: Publisher