The World That We Knew – Alice Hoffman

The World That We KnewThe world changed for Hanni in 1941. Berlin became a very dark and dangerous place. Hanni knew that her twelve-year-old daughter, Lea, must be sent away. But Lea could not go alone and Hanni must stay with her invalid mother. Desperate, she went to the rabbi for help and was told that the rabbi’s studies must not be disturbed. But his daughter, Ettie, had secretly watched the rabbi and thought of a way to help. So she and Hanni created the golem, a mystical Jewish creature. It was a female golem, instructed to protect Lea from harm. I automatically love anything that Alice Hoffman writes. Her books always include unlikely characters, are always lyrical and beautiful. This is no exception. The harsh reality of the Nazi occupation of France is combined with an almost dreamlike tale of an unusual female golem, and it works beautifully. The story moved me and will stay with me for a long time. I highly recommend this wonderful book.

eGalley review                                                              Publication date 9.24.19

Posted in adult, fiction, highly recommend, historical fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

The Merciful Crow – Margaret Owen

Merciful CrowFrom the publisher:

A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

While the premise of the story is familiar – struggling lower-class heroine assists heir to throne, this story shines with the unique use of teeth as a source of power.  Fie is very likable and the reader quickly understands her problems.  The author addresses them and then we move on.  Good!  No need to repeat internal conflicts over and over. Fie has to get the prince and his bodyguard to safety.  For most of the book they are travelling across the country and trying to outrun the bad guys.  The plot moves at a brisk pace with the action and adventure of narrowly being captured many times over.   The first book in the planned duology is good and I am eager to read the sequel.

eGalley review                                                      Publication date 7.30.19

Posted in fantasy, Uncategorized | Tagged

Prince Albert: The Man Who Saved the Monarchy – A. N. Wilson

Prince AlbertPrince Albert lived only 42 years, but in that short time his influence helped mold Britain into a center of intellectual advancement. He was multi-talented:  engineer, politician, musician, composer. He was interested in everything, and was interested in making everything better. He served as Chancellor of Cambridge, and organized the Great Exhibition of 1851. With a little help from the Queen, he fathered nine children, thus fathering the royal dynasties of Germany, Russia, Spain and Bulgaria. Unlike most fathers of his era, he took a great interest in the education and care of his children. This is a very well researched book, with much of the material coming from the Royal Archives at Windsor, including private letters and diaries. And it is a very readable book, looking into the lives of Albert and Victoria, and their children. It went into much detail about politics, too much for my taste, but that’s just me. Mostly, I enjoyed the book very much.

eGalley review                                                      Publication date 8.6.19

Posted in adult, biography, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

The Traitor’s Kingdom – Erin Beaty

Traitor's KingdomFrom the publisher: “The fate of Sage Fowler and her fiancé Captain Alex Quinn is decided in the epic conclusion of the Traitor’s Trilogy.  Once a spy and counselor to the throne, Sage Fowler has secured victory for her kingdom at a terrible cost. Now an ambassador representing Demora, Sage faces her greatest challenge to avoid a war with a rival nation.  After an assassination attempt destroys the possibility of peace, Sage and her fiancé, Major Alex Quinn, make a dangerous gamble to reveal the culprit. But the stakes are higher than ever, and in the game of traitors, betrayal is the only certainty. Unlikely alliances are forged and loyalties are stretched to the breaking point in the stunning conclusion to the Traitor’s Trilogy.” 

After catching up on the characters and conflicts inside and outside Demora, the plot moved at a swift pace.  Plenty of action, plotting, and assassinations, nicely topped off with a bit of romance.  Not overly done, but Alex and Sage have been through a rather lot, so good for them.  Sage does a lot of introspection regarding her relationships with bestie, Clare and Alex.  Demora and Kimisara have been at war for so many generations, that they became friendly with each other and amenable to peace talks rather quickly, bordered on implausible.  That might lead readers to thinking that Kimisara was not genuine in wanting peace.  This final book in the trilogy wraps up the story and provides a satisfying conclusion for the reader.

Posted in adventure, fantasy, Uncategorized | Tagged

The Eagle Has Landed: 50 Years of Lunar Science Fiction – Edited by Neil Clarke

Eagle Has LandedJuly 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. To celebrate the anniversary, Neil Clarke has assembled a wonderful collection of stories written after Apollo 11. The first was written in 1976 by John Varley, and they continue in chronological order to end with a story by Rich Larson written in 2018, twenty-four in all. Stories by Kim Stanley Robinson, John Kessel, Gregory Benford, Ian McDonald, Nancy Kress, just to name a few of the authors.  My favorite story, Tyche and the Ants by Hannu Rajaniemi, is about a little girl living alone on the Moon. That is, she is alone if you don’t count Chang’e and the Jade Rabbit, and the Magician. There were many different views of what life of the moon would be like, some grim, some humorous, and not one of them has come to pass. Oh well, we can get our kicks by imagining what might have been.

eGalley review                                          Publication date 7.16.19

Posted in adult, science fiction, Uncategorized

Turbulence – David Szalay

TurbulanceShe had been visiting her son in London. He has cancer and she is very afraid he will die. But now she must return home to Madrid and is very afraid of flying. After some turbulence she converses a bit with the man in the next seat. He returns home to a tragedy, which also impacts a pilot on his way to the airport for a flight to Sao Paulo. The pilot spends the night with a journalist who files the next day to Toronto. And so it goes. The book is a series of vignettes, tiny peeks into lives, with each chapter leading from one flight segment to another, the lives of strangers becoming linked. The writing is beautiful, with carefully drawn portraits of people in crisis. I loved the book, but I find myself wishing to know what else happened in all those lives. This is a quick read. Not to be missed.

eGalley review                                                            Publication date 7.16.19

Posted in adult, fiction, realistic fiction, Uncategorized

The Vagabonds: The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison’s Ten Year Road Trip – Jeff Guinn

VagabondsIt all began in February of 1914. Thomas Edison arrived in Fort Myers, Florida, for his annual escape from the cold of New Jersey with not only his wife and children, but naturalist John Burroughs and Henry Ford, and Ford’s wife and son. Ford and Burroughs had great plans to explore the Everglades, never mind that there were alligators and snakes. Some guides and a gun should be sufficient. But everyone wanted to come too – Ford and Edison’s sons, then the women decided to come. They all set off in three Fords and two Cadillacs, and soon ran out of road. But early autos were tough and they plowed on. Unfortunately, a storm in the night blew over the tents, everyone was soaked. The next day they tried to dry out, but it was no use, and the expedition returned to Fort Myers. The next year, Edison was still wanting to take a car trip, and so were Ford and Burroughs. Harvey Firestone joined the group and they named themselves the Vagabonds. On August 28, 1916 they began their first trip, and they continued taking annual trips until 1925. This was a very entertaining book, full of anecdotes about these four very famous men and background stories to bring the reader into the nineteen twenties. As one who runs to pack a bag when someone says “road trip” I knew I would love this book. I wasn’t wrong. And so, I highly recommend it.

eGalley review                                                                Publication date 7.9.19

Posted in adult, biography, highly recommend, Uncategorized | Tagged ,