BOOK REVIEW: The Brideship Wife by Leslie Howard.

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Today we will be jumping back in time looking at The Brideship Wife written by Leslie Howard. I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was released today May 5, 2020–so all of you can go find a copy for yourselves now!

When this book popped up in NetGalley to request I was very excited because so much of the historical fiction genre focuses on the World War II era, so I have been trying to request some books outside of that era.

Charlotte is our main character, and we meet her in 1862, while her elder sister Harriet is trying her hardest to find a good match for Charlotte. But those efforts go awry, and finally Charlotte’s last option is to sail from England, all the way to the British Columbia colony on one of the brideships. Historically these ships brought unmarried, poor, disadvantaged women to the colony in hopes for a better life of more marriage and work opportunities.

This book does a good job of demonstrating what social etiquette was like during this time period, while also allowing our heroine to defy those norms. It was refreshing seeing a well-born young woman who understands working hard. Harriet is banished to British Columbia with her sister, as punishment from her husband. For most of the trip she was still concerned with Charlotte marrying well, not really making a plan for creating a living. It seemed much more realistic, or at the very least more relatable, to show Charlotte finding a position and fumbling her way through making money to support herself.

I also thought it was very interesting to see the effects of laudanum addiction amongst the rich. I have read other books in the past that briefly mentioned rich women taking laudanum for their nerves, but they didn’t really convey an understanding of addiction like Howard illustrates in The Brideship Wife. In general, I loved that the characters weren’t just handed a happily-ever-after.

All-in-all I really enjoyed reading this book, and I’ll definitely be checking out others written by Howard.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron.

This review is going to take a look into the world of historical fiction and castles. The Painted Castle is the third and final novel in Kristy Cambron’s Lost Castle series. I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It was published October 15th and I highly recommend readers pick up a copy.

Kiera Foley had been working on a PhD in Art History when she was ostracized from the art world. She retreated back to Dublin and we find her working in the family pub when a dark and mysterious man shows up and makes her an offer. Little does she know, it’s an offer that she can’t refuse. She arrives in the English countryside and is delivered to a rundown manor housing a painting of Queen Victoria the she must study for authenticity.

This book tells the story of the manor and those that lived there in three different points in history. The life of the viscount and artists in the 1840s, the widow of the viscount and a base full of soldiers during World War II, and that of Keira in modern day, as they work to restore the honey cottage and beautiful library that was found bricked up on the premises.

Cambron does an outstanding job of using the three couples’ stories to create the big picture of one place throughout time. And although this book is categorized as Christian fiction, it is not as heavily based on the Christian faith as some. I think those that love to get lost in the English countryside and read about art would thoroughly enjoy this book. I will definitely be going back to read the first two books in the trilogy to learn more about Keira’s mysterious brothers.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis

This post is going to focus on The Vanished Bride written by Bella Ellis. It is the first novel in Ellis’s Brontë Sisters Mystery series and was released on September 10, 2019.

This book has the interesting concept of following the Brontë sisters in 1845 as they learn of a murder that has taken place in a nearby village. The murder has taken place in a home in which one of their friends works as a governess. But is it even murder? The woman of the house is missing, but left her room covered in blood. What other explanation could there possibly be?

Though they have yet to publish any of their works, they already have the research skills needed to become “detectors.” Ellis has done an enormous amount of research on the Brontë family and because of this was able to use each family member to their strengths in her plot.

Ellis also does a good job at describing a society that believes women should be at home, and seen, but not heard. They take various journeys together, and apart in following the clues they uncover under the guise of searching for the right place to open a school.

I found the plot enjoyable as I followed along the twists and turns throughout the English countryside. This book will be enjoyed by fans of the Brontë clan, and cozy mystery readers.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: In the Warsaw Ghetto by Glenn Haybittle

This post is going to focus on In the Warsaw Ghetto by Glenn Haybittle. I received an eARC through NetGalley. It was published on July 30, 2019. This book took me quite a while to get through–much longer than I expected.

When I read the summary and saw the beautiful cover of a ballerina in a rundown building I thought this would be a story that tried to take an uplifting route through World War II. I assumed Ala Silberman would be a dancer, impacted by the move to the ghetto, but somehow overcoming the atrocities performed against the Jewish people. Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

I found the first half to two-thirds of the book incredibly difficult to get through. It was much slower paced than the last bit of the book, and did a lot of the building of scene, when life was still as “normal” as it could have been for the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. The book is told in alternating chapters between Ala Silberman, and her uncle Max.

Ala has been training to be a ballet dancer when she and her family is forced to live in the ghetto. In the beginning she leads a privileged life compared to many of the others in the ghetto because her family has ties to the Judenrat.

Max is still in love with the ghost of a girl he was close with while at university. They have been apart for a decade, and she has married and had two daughters. Once times become a bit harder, he finds Sabina once more, now separated from her husband. Max cares for her and her daughters to give them a better life within the ghetto.

As the story continues and years pass, living conditions within the ghetto get much worse. The reader is able to see what life is like through various characters that were previously built up. More and more are deported to Treblinka, or killed within the ghetto. Finally, there is a Jewish uprising against the Germans in the ghetto, which really sped up the reading.

This was a really heavy book to read thematically, but it was also somewhat enlightening to read. I feel like it brought you more into the world that the Jews lived in, instead of only learning about the atrocities committed against them by the Nazis. In school, students learn that Nazis are bad, and what they did was bad, but the deeper lessons are often glossed over, and I think this book did a good job of bringing some of those to light for the reader.

Happy reading 🙂

The Fifth Petal

Last October I found myself sitting at the New England Library Association’s (NELA) annual conference, finishing up my lunch and waiting for the speaker to begin. The speaker was Brunonia Barry, author of the Fifth Petal.

Now, I’ll be honest. At this point I did not know who Barry was. As a newly minted librarian, I was not very familiar with many popular authors. In fact, I am still learning about many, and I doubt I’ll ever keep up. But, I sat there intrigued to see where the talk would go. Barry spent much of her lecture sharing with the listeners about life in Salem, and how crazy it becomes around Halloween. She introduced us to her world, and the world of her characters, as the Fifth Petal is largely set in Salem as well.

Being from New England myself I am a sucker for any reading about the Salem Witch Trials. I find learning about the past fascinating, even through fictional stories. Often it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction, but I was beyond excited to see the likes of Samuel Sewall and Cotton Mather woven into the family lines of the characters.

The story centers on the sole survivor of a horrific murder 30 years prior. She finds out the woman that saved her from the homicide is actually alive, although she was told otherwise. The rest of the book works to solve the crime from 30 years ago, as well as the murder of a teenager  that opened up the book. I really don’t want to give too much away, because I know I hate spoilers.

The next few books I will be reviewing are going to be non-fiction books, and then a Christmas story, just in time for the holiday.

Do you prefer reading reviews of fiction or non-fiction stories? Or maybe you have a book you’d like me to review? Let me know!