Fates and Traitors by Jennifer Chiaverini

The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln was an event that shattered many lives, involving many more people than is glazed over in middle school history lessons. John Wilkes Booth is portrayed as a crazed actor who decided to murder the president in a theater while he watched a play.

Most people don’t realize that Booth’s actions affected many lives and lead to the ruin of his associates and family members. Fates and Traitors, by Jennifer Chiaverini, examines what if must have been like for three women who never met one another, but whose lives were changed forever that day that Booth committed his crime.

Booth’s mother and siblings, who didn’t even share his political sentiments, lost friends, careers, and met with serious shame and social isolation in the aftermath of the terrible event-and all knowing that their beloved but difficult family member had committed a terrible crime and met with a terrible end.

Miss Lucy Hale was a lovely debutante and daughter of a Union senator who was enchanted by John Wilkes Booth and his charms and found herself dragged into the tabloids when her youthful near-engagement to the assassin was dragged into the media. Heartbroken, she dealt with serious shock and reputation deterioration and her father’s own loyalties were questioned.

Mary Surratt ran a boarding house which served Confederate sympathizers, and her establishment became a place at the center of the plots which eventually lead to the murder of the president. Fringe-involved as she was, she met the noose with the rest of the plotters, leaving her daughter motherless.

So many lives affected by the actions of one man who believed he was saving the country. Fates and Traitors is a great reading choice for American history lovers, especially if you enjoy seeing the lives of women who made history in their own way, but never made it into the textbooks.

The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper

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Charlotte Bill is a nanny with the most prestigious appointment imaginable…Tending the children of the Duke and Duchess of York…children in line for the throne of England. The world of the royals is full of jewels, and gold, and glamour-but it’s speckled with deep dark secrets, and the cold comforts of a royal home-and Charlotte is quickly realizing that these children need her love and care more than she could have possibly imagined.

Despite the challenges, Charlotte, nicknamed Miss Lala by the children, spends years of her life raising an entire generation of children, sacrificing her own chances at love, home and hearth for a duty which has become her greatest life accomplishment. Charlotte sacrifices everything to ensure that the children, especially the last born son, Little Prince John, are safe and cherished until adulthood. No matter what it takes or who she will lose from her own life.

Stretching from 1897 through 1959, The Royal Nanny, by Karen Harper, tells the tale of a devoted nanny, and the details of royal family life. If you like historical fiction, especially the royal variety like Philippa Gregory, you will love this novel. I couldn’t put it down. Check it out!

Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Sophronia is back in the third installment of the Finishing School series, set in Victorian England in a world full of Werewolves, Vampires, and secret spies bedecked in all things steampunk. The Finishing School series is a Young Adult series which I highly recommend to teenage girls or those adults out there who just enjoy a good supernatural fiction novel.

Waistcoats and Weaponry centers around Sophronia’s group of friends, who decide to go on a mission to save Werewolf-kind, prevent the Vampires from taking over the world, and evade the Flywaymen in the process. Naturally this would include commandeering an air dinghy (dirigible) and a passenger train in the process. And let’s not forget, the ladies have recently learned the art of flirting during their studies at finishing school, so naturally they must put their new skills to use to help in their endeavors.

Gail Carriger is a favorite author of mine-I love steampunk, but more than that, I just adore the silly humor laced into the stories, which mash up the world of Mary Poppins and Indiana Jones and ties it together with automatons, various robots and flying contraptions and all that comes with steampunk genre. If you’ve been meaning to get a Gail Carriger novel but haven’t gotten around to it I highly recommend that you do so. You won’t regret it.

 

My Father’s Wives by Mike Greenberg

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Jonathan Sweetwater has it all-beautiful wife, two great kids, blossoming career…One day, however, he comes home early to find what he thinks could be evidence that his wife is having an affair. All reality fragments for him and he finds himself on a quest to learn who he really is, and what kind of power his father may have had in defining the man he becomes. Jonathan sets off to find out just what his estranged father was actually like, and why he left a trail of five wives behind him before he passed away.

This is a novel of reflection, of nature versus nurture, of letting the past or others define who you are, and learning to see what is right in front of your eyes instead of trying to find something better around every corner. Readers will be surprised by this novel, which ends in a heartwarming place where you never would have expected it to end.

Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger

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The Finishing School series, by Gail Carriger, is set in the same world as her previous series, the Parasol Protectorate. The first two books are Etiquette and Espionage, and Curtsies and Conspiracies. The Finishing School Series has been adopted as Teen Fiction but will be enjoyed by anyone who loves to read paranormal fiction.

The heroine of the series is Sophronia Temminnick, a 14 year old girl whose mother wants very badly for her to go to finishing school and learn to become a young debutante and lady of society. Sophronia, however, would much prefer her usual activities : spying on people, climbing the dumb waiter shaft, playing with newfangled inventions…When the headmistress for a finishing school appears with the intention of taking Sophronia away with her, the young woman has very mixed feelings. But Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is not quite what it seems…The…

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The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

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America’s first astronauts are a proud part of our history as a country. These men tested experimental equipment, were launched on death-defying missions, and risked their lives nearly every day they went to work. The media couldn’t get enough of these heroic icons, representing the progress of the U.S. in science and technology. Unfortunately, while the media was having a heyday over these men and the accomplishments of NASA, they were also fascinated by the women who stood by these remarkable men–the Astronaut wives. These women married risk-taking, proud, ambitious men, but they never dreamed that they would one day be on the cover of Life magazine, interviewing with journalists about what it was like to have your husband shot into space.

This true account (non-fiction) of the Astronaut Wives’ Club outlines the politics of the time, the technological advancements and disasters that lead to finally landing on the moon, orbiting the country, and more. Anyone interested in American history and the fascinating women who could wait in a suburban home for an astronaut to come home for dinner each day–and the remarkable things they did themselves, without getting much credit for their strength of character and bravery themselves.

Fully recommend this read to anyone who likes non-fiction, especially regarding women’s issues and the changing politics in history regarding the role of the female. Top marks! And if you like to listen to your non-fiction via audiobook, Hachette Audio has made The Astronaut’s Wives Club into an audiobook that is impeccably narrated and a great option.

 

 

The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley

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Matt Beaulieu and Elle McClure were deeply in love with one another and trying desperately to have a baby when she had an accident that put her on life support. Her wish was to be laid to rest, not to be kept alive on machines if there was no hope of recovery, and Matt was ready to follow her wishes…Until he learned that within his wife’s broken body was a baby, holding on for life-and he is ready to fight with all that he has for that baby’s life. But the legal system has never seen this kind of case before, and his wife’s legal paperwork regarding the issue means that suddenly a great many political issues are coming into play.

Pro-Lifers are lined up in front of the hospital, protesting the pulling of Elle’s life support while she carries an unborn child, Pro-Choicers are claiming that using Elle’s body against her legal wishes, to keep the baby alive, is wrong. A media circus hovers around Matt, and all he wants is to do what he knows Elle would want-keep the baby alive no matter what it takes.

Keep the tissue nearby if you want to brave this novel, which delves into places that most of us would prefer not to think about…Long, drawn out deaths, how we remember our loved ones and how we would want to be remembered after we died, and the horror of a world that can try to tell  you to pull the plug on your wife and unborn child because of a legal form.

Readers who enjoyed What You Wish For, by Kerry Reichs, which addressed the controversial topic of parenting and the politics of test tube babies and non-traditional approaches to having children, will likely find The Promise of Stardust, by Priscille Sibley, equally riveting. This reviewer went through half a box of tissues, however, so you’ve been warned!

Come In and Cover Me by Gin Phillips

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Ren is an Archaeologist with a very serious edge-she can connect to the spirits of the departed, and they guide her towards important finds on archaeological dig sites, bring her perspective, and even offer her comfort in life. Are these spirits real or are they figments of her imagination? Is she insane? She doesn’t share her secret with just anyone, in fact, she tends to keep most of her secrets to herself, including the tragic loss of her brother when she was 12 years old, an experience from which she has never recovered.

One particular dig site is bringing some new challenges for her… Workers have discovered pieces of a bowl that may show a link between two very distant sites, which could be a huge archaeological find, signifying movement of indigenous people that could tell a great deal about the period in time. On top of the archaeological excitement in store for Ren, there is a very handsome colleague on the site who has taken a particular interest in her, both personally and professionally. Can Ren find enough peace to share her truths with Silas, or will her burden remain her own? What do the spirits want from her, and why are they appearing with cryptic messages?

Anyone who likes archaeology will be very interested in Come In and Cover Me, by Gin Phillips. American archaeological studies about indigenous people make up a very interesting and colorful historical journey, mixed with serious soul-searching, and heavy on the spiritual, this novel is unlike any other I have read, and this time, that’s a good thing.

The Blood Gospel, Order of the Sanguines

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Dr. Erin Granger is an archaeologist working on a dig in Israel who gets called in by the Israeli government to help out with a high-priority archaelogical find that has the potential to be very dangerous. The the extent of that danger, however is greater than she ever could have expected. An ancient church order is on a mission to recover an ancient artifact that may have the power to ruin the world, and they can’t do it without her help. Doesn’t sound too bad until she realizes that every supernatural creature seems just as intent on recovering the artifact, which is proclaimed to be the Gospel of Christ, written in his own hand, in his own blood. Suddenly she is thrown into a world of vampires (good and evil), grimwolves, and various other supernatural creatures she once thought the stuff of mythology.

The Blood Gospel, by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell, is a combination of genres that will make readers go wild. The suspense and history of The DaVinci Code meet with the paranormal, bringing vampires and other supernatural creatures into the world of the bible and Christian history, and the secret operations of the Nazis to hoard ancient artifacts and priceless collectibles are sprinkled on the top, just to give it a little flavor. If you love paranormal fiction, intelligent historical novels, archaeology, religious history, or any combination of the above, the Order of the Sanguines Series, of thich The Blood Gospel is the first, is a must-read.

Safe Within by Jean Reynolds Page

Elaine Forsyth and her fading husband, Carson, moved into her parents’ full-sized treehouse by the lake so that he can spend his remaining days in peace. Moving back to where they grew up brings up some old, un-faced issues that Elaine finds herself confronted with at every turn. Her mother-in-law, Greta, has never approved of Elaine, and refuses to talk to her or acknowledge that her son is the father of Elaine’s son, Mick. Mick is dealing with his own skeletons, as he spends the summer with his mother, grieving the loss of his father and tracing his old steps, only to find that there is a secret involving his past girlfriend that everyone in town seems to know about, except for him.

This is a novel about tieing up the loose ends of your life and finding closure where you least expect it, and it is a novel about making your own family, regardless of history or even genetics-family and life are what you make them. Grief, loss, and letting go of the past so you can move forward, all factor into this surprisingly uplifting story by Jean Reynolds Page, which stresses that even though you can’t change the past, you can always try to do better with the present.

If you like women’s fiction you will enjoy this novel, especially if you liked A Simple Thing by Kathleen McCleary, or The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo.