Jim Reviews: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street – Natasha Pulley

I admit I picked up this book because of the cover. I first saw it in the new book display by the circ desk (if you haven’t checked that one out you really should there are a lot of gems there). And everything on the cover of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street has a connection to the story which makes it even cooler. Plus it has really great endpapers. This is Natasha Pulley’s first book and it is a mixture of historical fiction and fantasy.

Reading List: Wolf Hall

If you are like most fans of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall series you’ve been climbing the walls waiting for PBS to release the BBC miniseries (which they’ve been watching in England for months the lucky devils). But there’s a problem you can only watch one episode a week and you’ve already reread Wolf Hall and…

Jim Reviews: John the Pupil – David Flusfeder

David Flusfeder’s novel John the Pupil has been repeatedly compared to Umberto Eco’s fiction. The similarity is definitely there. The story is about John a young Franciscan monk in 1267 Oxford studying under the English philosopher Roger Bacon (Bacon also gets a couple of mentions in Name of the Rose if I remember rightly). John is tasked with making a pilgrimage to the Viterbo Italy where the Pope is in residence.

2015 Releases: Historical Fiction

2015 looks to be a very good year for fans of historical fiction. It took a great deal of time and hemming and hawing to cull down all of the titles that caught my eye to just these nine, making up a more manageable list. Many of these titles feature real-life characters: Coco Chanel, Edouard Manet, Virginia Woolf, and Shakespeare, to name a few. While other books on the list might appeal to fans of Kate Morton, Susanna Kearsley, and Anya Seton.

Jim Reviews: Marbeck and the Double-Dealer – John Pilkington

England has been in a nearly constant state of war with Spain for years, the Queen might be getting a little fuzzy between the ears and her spy service has a mole. Robert Cecil Jr, Elizabeth’s Secretary of State, calls in Marbeck aka John Sand. Cecil does this reluctantly since he considers Marbeck a loose canon and, to use his expression, a coxcomb but he knows Marbeck is loyal at least.

Joint Staff Review: Traitor’s Blade – Sebastien de Castell

This is the story of how Jim came to read Traitor’s Blade:
Michelle, after one chapter: Dude, this is basically Three Musketeers fanfiction!
Jim: Oh? Are there swords?
Michelle: Yes! And magic! Okay, that’s not very Three Musketeers, but fanfiction! And I know who’s who.
Jim: Yeah? Who’s Ara–
Michelle: Oh, no. You’re going to read it and then we’ll discuss.
Jim: *gets book that evening*…

Letters from Skye ~ Jessica Brockmole

Jessica Brockmole’s debut novel written in letters sparkles from the start. Don’t let the format put you off. If you are thinking of long-winded letters from the 18th Century, think again. These letters move the pace along in this historical novel often leaving the reader hanging and highlighting the desperation of the time period. Brockmole…

The Dressmaker – Kate Alcott

Reviewed by Kim Tess Collins is a young aspiring dressmaker who is desperate to get on the Titanic in order to make her way to America where she’ll hopefully have better luck. Fortuitously she happens upon Lady Lucille Duff Gordon who herself is a famous dressmaker and is on her way to an upcoming spring…

The American Heiress – Daisy Goodwin

Reviewed by Kim Beautiful Cora Cash (yes, that is really her name), is a wealthy Nouveau Riche American who has everything but a titled husband. Set in the 1890s, appearance is everything when you’re acquaintances with the likes of the Vanderbilts. Unfortunately for the Cash family, although they are the wealthiest, they are still looked…

Madame Bovary's Daughter – Linda Urbach

Reviewed by Kim In this fascinating tale of perseverance, Linda Urbach picks up where Flaubert left off, at Charles Bovary’s funeral. A society outcast because of her mother’s actions, twelve-year-old Berthe is forced to live with her bitter and impoverished grandmother. After her grandmother dies Berthe desperately seeks work, finally winding up in a cotton…

Russian Winter ~ Daphne Kalotay

We were so lucky to have Daphne Kalotay visit the library at the beginning of the month. She was a wonderful speaker. We couldn’t resist another joint review for Russian Winter. The beautiful cover is what first catches your eye of Daphne Katolay’s  Russian Winter. It depicts a back shot of a woman with her…

Juliet ~ Anne Fortier

Juliet is the debut novel by Anne Fortier and what a grand debut it is. For those of you who are Romeo and Juliet purists, a word of warning; while there are many similarities, there are also just as many differences such as instead of the story being set in Verona it takes place in…

The Book of Fires ~ Jane Borodale

The life changing events in Agnes Trussel’s life seem to occur by chance. She has a knack for either being in the right place at the right time or vice versa. When she accidentally comes upon some money, she flees to London to avoid facing the consequences of her unwanted pregnancy. While it may seem…

Alexandria ~ Lindsey Davis

In the 19th book in this series, Roman detective Marcus Didius Falco travels to Alexandria with his family so that his pregnant wife can see the pyramids. This menagerie which includes, Falco and his wife, two young daughters, an adopted teenage daughter and Falco’s brother-in-law stays with Falco’s outcast uncle and his partner. As one…

The Marrowbone Marble Company ~ Glenn Taylor

When Loyal Ledford, returns to the Mann Glass Factory after being wounded at Guadalcanal, he has trouble readjusting to his old life. He drinks to drown the horrors he saw there and finds the most comfort talking to an African-American veteran, Mack Wells. Though trained as an engineer during the war, Mack resumes his post…

Wolf Hall ~ Hilary Mantel

Winner of the Man Booker Prize, Mantel has called Wolf Hall a response to Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons. The ruthless character in that play is tempered in Mantel’s fictionalized account of the life of Thomas Cromwell. Her Cromwell is still opportunistic and willing to overlook some of his personal beliefs in order…

The Given Day ~ Dennis Lehane

One of our staff members read and loved Dennis Lehane’s latest novel of historical fiction. It sounds like a must-read for anyone interested in the history of Boston. Set in Boston at the end of the First World War, bestselling author Dennis Lehane’s extraordinary eighth novel unflinchingly captures the political and social unrest of a…

In for a Penny – Rose Lerner

One thing a disreputable rake does not expect to return home to after a night of carousing with like-minded friends is news of his father’s death in a duel. That, Lord Nevinstoke learns, is like a slap to the face; the debts and resulting destitution left in his father’s wake, on the other hand, are…

A Bride in the Bargain ~ Deeanne Gist

In 1860s Seattle, lumberjack Joe Denton struggles to hold onto the land he was awarded as part of a Land Donation Grant. Without a wife, the burgeoning city’s law officials threaten to sell off the acreage Joe is desperate to hold onto. The answer to Joe’s prayers arrives in the enviable form of Anna Ivey,…

So Brave, Young and Handsome ~ Leif Enger

The author of Peace Like a River has written another well-crafted novel.  Monte Becket is an author whose one book was a huge success. He is under great pressure to write another blockbuster, but has a severe case of writer’s block.  His story starts in Minnesota in 1915 when a white-haired stranger rows by on the…

Silent in the Sanctuary ~ Deanna Raybourn

Fresh from a six-month sojourn in Italy, Lady Julia returns home to Sussex to find her father’s estate crowded with family and friends— but dark deeds are afoot at the deconsecrated abbey, and a murderer roams the ancient cloisters. Much to her surprise, the one man she had hoped to forget—the enigmatic and compelling Nicholas…

Silent in the Grave ~ Deanna Raybourn

“Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.” These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society, Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he…

Why Mermaids Sing ~ C.S. Harris

In 1811, murder has jarred London’s elite. The sons of prominent families have been found at dawn in public places, their bodies mutilated and strange objects stuffed into their mouths. Although Sebastian St. Cyr is distracted by his seemingly doomed relationship with actress Kat Boleyn, the oddness of these murders nags at him-and he becomes…