Book Review

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord by Celeste Connally [Book Review]

Book Review

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BOOK INFO

Title: Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord

Author: Celeste Connally

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Publish Date: November 14, 2023

Genre: Historical Mystery

Series: Lady Petra Inquires #1

My Rating: 3/5

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord by Celeste Connally

BOOK BLURB

London, 1815. Lady Petra Forsyth, daughter of the Earl of Holbrook, has made a shocking proclamation. After losing her beloved fiancé in an accident three years earlier, she announces in front of London’s loosest lips that she will never marry. A woman of independent means―and rather independent ways―Petra sees no reason to cede her wealth and freedom to any man now that the love of her life is gone. Instead, she plans to continue enjoying the best of society without any expectations.

But when ballroom gossip suggests that a longtime friend has died of a fit due to her “melancholia” while in the care of a questionable physician, Petra vows to use her status to dig deeper―uncovering a private asylum where men pay to have their wives and daughters locked away, or worse. Just as Petra has reason to believe her friend is alive, a shocking murder proves more danger is afoot than she thought. And the more determined Lady Petra becomes in uncovering the truth, the more her own headstrong actions and desire for independence are used against her, putting her own freedom―and possibly her life―in jeopardy.


Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord by Celeste Connally

MY REVIEW

Lady Petra vows to never marry after her fiancé dies. She uses her title to enjoy the best of society. When she hears a friend has died, she decides to look into the mysterious death.

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord is the first book in the Lady Petra Inquires series. Petra is a smart, strong protagonist. The cast of characters is interesting. and the setting is lovely. This was a great start to a new series.

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

Books in the Lady Petra Inquires series:
  1. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord
Book Review

The Lives of Diamond Bessie by Jody Hadlock [Book Review]

Book Review

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


BOOK INFO

Title: The Lives of Diamond Bessie

Author: Jody Hadlock

Publisher: SparkPress

Publish Date: April 5, 2022

Genre: Historical Mystery

Series: na

My Rating: 3/5

The Lives of Diamond Bessie by Jody Hadlock

BOOK BLURB

Pregnant out of wedlock, sixteen-year-old Annie Moore is sent to live at a convent for fallen women. When the nuns take her baby, Annie escapes, determined to find a way to be reunited with her daughter. But few rights or opportunities are available to a woman in the 1860s, and after failing to find a respectable job, Annie resorts to prostitution in order to survive.

As a highly sought-after demi-mondaine, Annie—now Bessie—garners many expensive gifts from her admirers, and eventually meets and marries the son of a wealthy jeweler. With her marriage, she believes her dream of returning to proper society has finally come true. She’s proven wrong when she suffers the ultimate betrayal at the hands of the man she thought would be her salvation. But Bessie doesn’t let her story end there.

Inspired by a true story and set amid the burgeoning women’s rights movement, The Lives of Diamond Bessie is a haunting tale of betrayal and redemption that explores whether seeking revenge is worth the price you might pay.


The Lives of Diamond Bessie by Jody Hadlock

MY REVIEW

Diamond Bessie was killed and her killer was never brought to justice. Before that, Diamond Bessie was Annie Moore. After much tragedy in her young life, Annie became a prostitute known as Bessie. One day Bessie met Abe Rothschild, they fell for one another, and got married. Not long into their marriage, they traveled to Jefferson, TX, where Bessie was killed.

The Lives of Diamond Bessie is told from Bessie’s point of view. While most people suspected they knew who Bessie’s killer was, he was never convicted. This novel is Bessie’s story of bringing her killer to justice.

I was okay with the first part of the novel, but when things switched to Bessie’s spirit’s point of view, I lost interest. It felt almost like two separate novels. A solid start with a lackluster ending.

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

Book Review

Secret Identity by Alex Segura [Book Review]

Book Review

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


BOOK INFO

Title: Secret Identity

Author: Alex Segura

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publish Date: March 15, 2022

Genre: Historical Mystery

Series: na

My Rating: 3/5

Secret Identity by Alex Segura

BOOK BLURB

It’s 1975 and the comic book industry is struggling, but Carmen Valdez doesn’t care. She’s an assistant at Triumph Comics, which doesn’t have the creative zeal of Marvel nor the buttoned-up efficiency of DC, but it doesn’t matter. Carmen is tantalizingly close to fulfilling her dream of writing a superhero book.

That dream is nearly a reality when one of the Triumph writers enlists her help to create a new character, which they call “The Lethal Lynx,” Triumph’s first female hero. But her colleague is acting strangely and asking to keep her involvement a secret. And then he’s found dead, with all of their scripts turned into the publisher without her name. Carmen is desperate to piece together what happened to him, to hang on to her piece of the Lynx, which turns out to be a runaway hit. But that’s complicated by a surprise visitor from her home in Miami, a tenacious cop who is piecing everything together too quickly for Carmen, and the tangled web of secrets and resentments among the passionate eccentrics who write comics for a living.


Secret Identity by Alex Segura

MY REVIEW

A 1970s mystery in the comic book industry. A woman helps create a female superhero, but her involvement is kept secret. When her colleague is murdered, she is left wondering what happened, and she has no proof that she created the comic.

Secret Identity is a character driven mystery. Carmen wanted to create comics, and took a questionable offer from a colleague. She created a new comic superhero, but her name wasn’t on it. When her colleague was murdered, Carmen no longer has a connection to the comic.

Noir fiction for comic book fans. Secret Identity is a unique and gritty novel. The characters did not capture my attention as much as I would have liked, but the 1970s New York setting was fantastic.

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

Books by Alex Segura:
  1. Secret Identity
Book Review

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal [Book Review]

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

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


BOOK INFO

Title: The Doll Factory

Author: Elizabeth Macneal

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Publish Date: August 13, 2019

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: na

My Rating: 3/5

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

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.


The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

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.

Book Review

The Swan Keeper by Milana Marsenich [Book Review]

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

The Swan Keeper by Milana Marsenich

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

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, The Swan Keeper 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 [Book Review]

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

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

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

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.

Tangerine is told using 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.

Books by Christine Mangan:

  1. Tangerine
  2. Palace of the Drowned
  3. The Continental Affair
Book Review

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens [Book Review]

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

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


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.


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.

Where the Crawdads Sing 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.