Book Review: The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

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BOOK INFO

Title: The Doll Factory
Author: Elizabeth Macneal
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publish Date: August 13, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: n/a
My Rating: 3/5


BOOK BLURB

Obsession is an art.

In this “sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art, and obsession” (Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of The Girl on the Train), a beautiful young woman aspires to be an artist, while a man’s dark obsession may destroy her world forever.

In 1850s London, the Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and, among the crowd watching the dazzling spectacle, two people meet by happenstance. For Iris, an arrestingly attractive aspiring artist, it is a brief and forgettable moment but for Silas, a curiosity collector enchanted by all things strange and beautiful, the meeting marks a new beginning.

When Iris is asked to model for Pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly, her world begins to expand beyond her wildest dreams—but she has no idea that evil is waiting in the shadows. Silas has only thought of one thing since that chance meeting, and his obsession is darkening by the day.

“A page-turning psychological thriller” (Essie Fox, author of The Somnambulist) that will haunt you long after you finish it, The Doll Factory is perfect for fans of The Alienist, Drood, and The Historian.

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
Purchase Links:
Amazon | Books-a-Million


MY REVIEW

Two sisters, Iris and Rose, paint dolls for a living. Iris dreams of being an artist, and gets the chance to leave her oppressed working conditions. Rose is jealous, and doesn’t want Iris to have a better life than her. The better opportunity is to model for a painter, and in exchange, he will teach her to paint. Meanwhile, Silas, a taxidermist, see Iris and becomes infatuated with her. She is too preoccupied with other things to notice him. That leads to her becoming trapped in his dark obsession.

The setting of 1850s Victorian London is dark and dramatic. Iris’s life is bleak, and her journey to improving her life is interesting. She has no support, and takes a big chance by attempting to be an artist. Silas, the man obsessed with Iris, slows descends into madness when Iris rejects his advances. Both make for intriguing characters.

Complex characters in a slow-burning historical thriller. Grim, creepy, and atmospheric.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood

Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood

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BOOK INFO

Title: Keeping Lucy
Author: T. Greenwood
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publish Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: n/a
My Rating: 3/5


BOOK BLURB

The heartbreaking and uplifting story, inspired by true events, of how far one mother must go to protect her daughter.

Dover, Massachusetts, 1969. Ginny Richardson’s heart was torn open when her baby girl, Lucy, born with Down Syndrome, was taken from her. Under pressure from his powerful family, her husband, Ab, sent Lucy away to Willowridge, a special school for the “feeble-minded.” Ab tried to convince Ginny it was for the best. That they should grieve for their daughter as though she were dead. That they should try to move on.

But two years later, when Ginny’s best friend, Marsha, shows her a series of articles exposing Willowridge as a hell-on-earth–its squalid hallways filled with neglected children–she knows she can’t leave her daughter there. With Ginny’s six-year-old son in tow, Ginny and Marsha drive to the school to see Lucy for themselves. What they find sets their course on a heart-racing journey across state lines—turning Ginny into a fugitive.

For the first time, Ginny must test her own strength and face the world head-on as she fights Ab and his domineering father for the right to keep Lucy. Racing from Massachusetts to the beaches of Atlantic City, through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to a roadside mermaid show in Florida, Keeping Lucy is a searing portrait of just how far a mother’s love can take her.

Based on incredible true events, Keeping Lucy is the searing, heartfelt, and breathtaking story of just how far a mother’s love can take her.

Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood
Purchase Links:
Amazon | Books-a-Million


MY REVIEW

After Ginny and Ab have a daughter, Lucy, born with Down syndrome, Ab sends Lucy to a state facility for care. Ginny eventually hears of mistreatment at the state facility, Willowridge, and goes to see Lucy. What starts as a day together turns into a road trip when Ginny decides to not return Lucy to Willowridge.

Historical fiction set in the 1960s and early 1970s. Most of the story takes place in 1971, but flashbacks to Ginny and Ab’s courtship and early marriage is included to flesh out the characters and their relationship. Ginny is hurt over having Lucy taken away, but feels powerless to do anything about it. Ab is bullied by his father, a powerful attorney, in all life decisions, and sending Lucy to Willowridge is his father’s decision.

Times were different in the 1960s, and this novel examines some of the ways in which women were powerless… even when it concerned the care of their children. Ginny was forced to a breaking point, and had to act in a somewhat drastic way to have her voice heard. Ginny was not alone on her journey with Lucy though. She had her best friend Marsha along for the ride. Marsha clued Ginny in to what was happening at Willowridge, and stuck by Ginny throughout the story. Besides being an emotional story of a mother’s fight for her daughter, this novel also displays a positive female friendship.

A heartwarming story of motherhood and friendship. Historical fiction that many fans of contemporary women’s fiction will likely enjoy.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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BOOK INFO

Title: Daisy Jones & the Six
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publish Date: March 5, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: na
My Rating: 5/5


BOOK BLURB

Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity… until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Purchase Links:
Amazon | Books-a-Million


MY REVIEW

Daisy Jones is a young woman with a unique voice and a great look. The Six is a band that has been slowly growing in popularity. When a producer puts the two together for a song, magic happens. The song is a hit, and skyrockets Daisy and The Six to the top of the charts.

The story takes place in the 1970s and is full of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. Along with that lifestyle comes plenty of drama. Told in an interview format, everyone’s voice is heard – the band members, their management, and people important to their history. Daisy starts as a groupie, but really wants to create her own music. Billy, The Six’s frontman, wants his band to do well, but he also falls for Camila, gets married, and has a baby. Daisy and Billy both struggle with love and addiction. Daisy and Billy are the main characters, but Camilla was the strongest character.

I absolutely love the atmosphere of this book. It is about a fictional band, but it all seems so real. I’ve read some reviews that complain of the interview format that this book is written in, but I loved that. The format reminded me of Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, which is my favorite nonfiction book about music. It also reminded me a bit of The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band, where each band member and some management tells their side of the story.

Flawed characters in a complex story. This book did a skillful portrayal of depicting love, creativity, fame, and heartbreak. A great read for fans of historical fiction and the 1970s rock scene. Honest, empowering, and engaging.

Book Review: The Swan Keeper by Milana Marsenich

The Swan Keeper by Milana Marsenich

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BOOK INFO

Title: The Swan Keeper
Author: Milana Marsenich
Publisher: Open Books
Publish Date: May 18, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: na
My Rating: 4/5


BOOK BLURB

From USA Today featured novelist and Western Writers of America Spur award finalist Milana Marsenich, The Swan Keeper is an historical, coming-of-age novel set in 1920s Montana.

On her eleventh birthday, Lilly’s family visits the Cattail Marsh to see the newly hatched cygnets. The family outing turns tragic when Dean Drake shows up with his shotgun. Lilly sees him kill her father, injure her mother, and slaughter the bevy of trumpeter swans. The sheriff, her mother, sister, and best friend all think Lilly is trying to make sense of a senseless accident by blaming Drake. But Lilly knows the truth. Left alone she must bring him to justice.

“Author Milana Marsenich has penned a dramatic page-turner brimming with authentic detail. She knows this Montana countryside inside and out, her vivid descriptions capturing the spirit of the craggy Mission Mountains.”—Maggie Plummer, author of Spirited Away – A Novel of the Stolen Irish and Daring Passage: Book Two of the Spirited Away Saga

The Swan Keeper by Milana Marsenich
Purchase Links:
Amazon | Books-a-Million


MY REVIEW

Lilly has learned about the trumpeter swans from her father. Together they visit the local wetlands to watch and learn about the swans. Lilly is wanting big things for her eleventh birthday, and is especially excited about visiting the swans with her father, mother, and sister. Unfortunately, the day ends in tragedy when a man shows up to shoot the swans.

Set in 1920s Montana, this novel is about a young girl coming of age while dealing with loss, love, and revenge. When Lilly’s mother and father are shot, Lilly see the shooter. Sadly, nobody believes her. They say she is trying to make sense of a tragic accident, but she know the truth. Lilly takes it upon herself to prove who the guilty man is and bring him to justice.

A wonderfully written story about family, relationships, and the beauty of nature. This novel does an excellent job of balancing reality with fantasy. Historical fiction with a touch of magical realism. Tragic, heartfelt, and magical.

I received a digital copy of this book from Book Glow in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Tangerine by Christine Mangan

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. For more info, read my Disclosure Policy.


BOOK INFO

Title: Tangerine
Author: Christine Mangan
Publisher: Ecco
Publish Date: March 27, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: na
My Rating: 3/5


BOOK BLURB

The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

Tangerine by Christine Mangan
Purchase Links:
Amazon | Books-a-Million


MY REVIEW

Alice and Lucy were roommates in college. Following a tragic accident, the two friends haven’t spoken in years. Alice is now married and living with her husband in Tangier, when Lucy makes a surprise visit.

Told with alternating viewpoints, both Alice and Lucy relate their perspectives. Alice is weak and anxious. Lucy is outspoken and manipulative. A clever and mysterious story unfolds, that, admittedly, did not go in a way I was imagining. Loved the setting of 1950s Morocco though.

A slow burning historical suspense. Haunting, twisted, and dramatic.

Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

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BOOK INFO

Title: Where the Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publish Date: August 14, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: na
My Rating: 5/5


BOOK BLURB

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Purchase Links:
Amazon | Books-a-Million


MY REVIEW

Kya ia a little girl when family members start to leave her. As a result, she ends up growing up alone in the family’s shack in the marsh. The local townspeople think her to be wild and dangerous, but a few see the shy, lonely girl she is. As she gets older, boys start to take notice. One boy in particular captures her heart, but soon another young man enters the picture. When the young man is found dead, the townspeople suspect Kya is guilty of murder.

An amazing story about a girl growing up in the marsh. Kya has a difficult childhood, and doesn’t have the same opportunities as many children her age. She is smart and resilient though, and she manages to create a quiet life close to nature.

This book has multiple aspects that make it a compelling read. Historical fiction. Coming of age. Romance. Mystery. The setting is North Carolina in the 1950s to early 1970s. Kya is a child in the 1950s, but a good portion of the novel takes place during Kya’s teens and early twenties. Kya is alone in the world, but she does get a couple of suitors in her life. The mystery that takes place is well developed, especially in the questioning of the death as a murder or an accident. Unfortunately for Kya, her reputation as a wild child from the marsh has the townspeople convinced she is guilty, whether or not there was a crime.

Where the Crawdads Sing is beautifully written. I especially enjoyed the parts dealing with nature. Growing up in the marsh, and not having anyone in her life, Kya has an extraordinary relationship with the natural world. As Kya matures, she becomes a strong and intelligent woman.

An emotional story that follows the life of an interesting character. Intriguing, captivating, and heartbreaking.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.