Since I missed the last couple of Mailbox Monday posts in December, this week's post includes some of the many books I've received since that time, including those I purchased using some of the gift cards I received for Christmas.
Received for Review
Oleanna by Julie K. Rose
Set during the separation of Norway from Sweden in 1905, this richly detailed novel of love and loss was inspired by the life of the author's great-great-aunts.
Oleanna and her sister Elisabeth are the last of their family working their farm deep in the western fjordland. A new century has begun, and the world outside is changing, but in the Sunnfjord their world is as small and secluded as the verdant banks of a high mountain lake.
The arrival of Anders, a cotter living just across the farm's border, unsettles Oleanna's peaceful but isolated existence. Sharing a common bond of loneliness and grief, Anders stirs within her the wildness and wanderlust she has worked so hard to tame. When she is confronted with another crippling loss, Oleanna must decide once and for all how to face her past, claim her future, and find her place in a wide new world.
A Tainted Dawn by B.N. Peacock
August 1789. The Rights of Man. Liberty. Equality. Idealism. Patriotism. A new age dawns. And yet, old hostilities persist: England and Spain are on the brink of war. France, allied by treaty with Spain, readies her warships. Three youths - the son of an English carpenter, the son of a naval captain, and the son of a French court tailor - meet in London, a chance encounter that entwines their lives ever after. The English boys find themselves on the same frigate bound for the Caribbean. The Frenchman sails to Trinidad, where he meets an even more zealous Spanish revolutionary. As diplomats in Europe race to avoid conflict, war threatens to explode in the Caribbean, with the three youths pitted against each other. Will the dawn of the boys' young manhood remain bright with hope? Or will it become tainted with their countrymen's spilled blood?
Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Haggard
THWARTED QUEEN is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.
Cecylee is the apple of her mother’s eye. The seventh daughter, she is the only one left unmarried by 1424, the year she turns nine. In her father’s eyes, however, she is merely a valuable pawn in the game of marriage. The Earl of Westmorland plans to marry his youngest daughter to 13-year-old Richard, Duke of York, who is close to the throne. He wants this splendid match to take place so badly, he locks his daughter up.
The event that fuels the narrative is Cecylee’s encounter with Blaybourne, a handsome archer, when she is twenty-six years old. This love affair produces a child (the “One Seed” of Book II), who becomes King Edward IV. But how does a public figure like Cecylee, whose position depends upon the goodwill of her husband, carry off such an affair? The duke could have locked her up, or disposed of this illegitimate son.
But Richard does neither, keeping her firmly by his side as he tries to make his voice heard in the tumultuous years that encompass the end of the Hundred Years War - during which England loses all of her possessions in France - and the opening phase of the Wars of the Roses. He inherits the political mantle of his mentor Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, and becomes the people’s champion. The rambunctious Londoners are unhappy that their country has become mired in misrule due to the ineptitude of a King prone to fits of madness. Nor are they better pleased by the attempts of the King’s French wife to maneuver herself into power, especially as she was responsible for England’s losses in France. But can Richard and Cecylee prevail? Everywhere, their enemies lurk in the shadows.
This book is filled with many voices, not least those of the Londoners, who forged their political destiny by engaging in public debate with the powerful aristocrats of the time. By their courageous acts, these fifteenth-century Londoners set the stage for American Democracy.
Captain Blackwell's Prize by U.E. Ulett
A romantic adventure from the days of wooden ships and iron men. Captain Blackwell's Prize is a story of honor,duty, social class and the bond of sexual love.A small audacious British frigate does battle against a large but ungainly Spanish ship. British Captain Blackwell intercepts the Spanish La Trinidad and outmaneuvers and outguns the treasure ship then boards her. Fighting alongside the Spanish captain sword in hand is a beautiful woman The battle is quickly over. The Spanish captain is killed in the fray and his ship damaged beyond repair. Its survivors and treasure are taken aboard the British ship, Inconstant. Captain Blackwell's Prize features exciting sword fights and sea battles alongside the manners, ideas and prejudices of men and women from the time of Nelson and Napoleon.
The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan
Paris, 1878. Following their father’s sudden death, the Van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without his wages, and with the small amount their laundress mother earns disappearing into the absinthe bottle, eviction from their lodgings seems imminent. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opera, where for a scant seventeen francs a week, she will be trained to enter the famous Ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work as an extra in a stage adaptation of Émile Zola’s naturalist masterpiece L’Assommoir. Marie throws herself into dance and is soon modeling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her image will forever be immortalized as Little Dancer Aged 14. Meanwhile, Antoinette, derailed by her love for the dangerous Émile Abadie, must choose between honest labour and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman of the Parisian demimonde. Set at a moment of profound artistic, cultural and societal change, The Painted Girls is a tale of two remarkable sisters rendered uniquely vulnerable to the darker impulses of “civilized society.” In the end, each will come to realize that her salvation—her survival, even—lies with the other.
419 by Will Ferguson
A car tumbles through darkness down a snowy ravine.
A woman without a name walks out of a dust storm in sub-Saharan Africa.
And in the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the Internet, looking for victims.
Lives intersect. Worlds collide. And it all begins with a single email: "Dear Sir, I am the daughter of a Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help."
Will Ferguson takes readers deep into the labyrinth of lies that is "419," the world's most insidious Internet scam.
When Laura Curtis, a lonely editor in a cold northern city, discovers that her father has died because of one such swindle, she sets out to track down-and corner-her father's killer. It is a dangerous game she's playing, however, and the stakes are higher than she can ever imagine.
Woven into Laura's journey is a mysterious woman from the African Sahel with scars etched into her skin and a young man who finds himself caught up in a web of violence and deceit.
And running through it, a dying father's final words: "You, I love."
The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn
I was almost seventeen when the spell of my childhood was broken...It was the beginning of summer and, unbeknown to any of us then, the end of a belle epoque...
In July of 1914, innocent, lovely Clarissa Granville lives with her parents and three brothers in the idyllic isolation of Deyning Park, a grand English country house, where she whiles away her days enjoying house parties, country walks and tennis matches. Clarissa is drawn to Tom Cuthbert, the housekeeper's handsome son. Though her parents disapprove of their upstairs-downstairs friendship, the two are determined to see each other, and they meet in secret to share what becomes a deep and tender romance. But soon the winds of war come to Deyning, as they come to all of Europe. As Tom prepares to join the front lines, neither he nor Clarissa can envision what lies ahead of them in the dark days and years to come. Nor can they imagine how their love will be tested, or how they will treasure the memory of this last, perfect summer.
Circles of Time by Phillip Rock (Book Two of the Greville Family Trilogy)
The Acclaimed Trilogy That Has Been Called a Must-Read for Fans of Downton Abbey
A generation has been lost on the Western Front. The dead have been buried, a harsh peace forged, and the howl of shells replaced by the wail of saxophones as the Jazz Age begins. But ghosts linger—that long-ago golden summer of 1914 tugging at the memory of Martin Rilke and his British cousins, the Grevilles.
From the countess to the chauffeur, the inhabitants of Abingdon Pryory seek to forget the past and adjust their lives to a new era in which old values, social codes, and sexual mores have been irretrievably swept away. Martin Rilke throws himself into reporting, discovering unsettling political currents, as Fenton Wood-Lacy faces exile in faraway army outposts. Back at Abingdon, Charles Greville shows signs of recovery from shell shock and Alexandra is caught up in an unlikely romance. Circles of Time captures the age as these strongly drawn characters experience it, unfolding against England's most gracious manor house, the steamy nightclubs of London's Soho, and the despair of Germany caught in the nightmare of anarchy and inflation. Lives are renewed, new loves found, and a future of peace and happiness is glimpsed—for the moment.
I also bought the following:
- The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken;
- Witchlanders by Lena Coakley;
- Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
- The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro
- Gods of Gotham by Lindsay Faye