Publisher: Touchstone

#BookReview
Bachelor Girl by Kim van Alkemade
@KimvanAlkemade @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview Bachelor Girl by Kim van Alkemade @KimvanAlkemade @SimonSchusterCATitle: Bachelor Girl

Author: Kim van Alkemade

Published by Touchstone on March 6, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 416

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Orphan #8 comes a fresh and intimate novel about the destructive power of secrets and the redemptive power of love—inspired by the true story of Jacob Ruppert, the millionaire owner of the New York Yankees, and his mysterious bequest in 1939 to an unknown actress, Helen Winthrope Weyant.

When the owner of the New York Yankees baseball team, Colonel Jacob Ruppert, takes Helen Winthrope, a young actress, under his wing, she thinks it’s because of his guilt over her father’s accidental death—and so does Albert Kramer, Ruppert’s handsome personal secretary. Helen and Albert develop a deepening bond the closer they become to Ruppert, an eccentric millionaire who demands their loyalty in return for his lavish generosity.

New York in the Jazz Age is filled with possibilities, especially for the young and single. Yet even as Helen embraces being a “bachelor girl”—a working woman living on her own terms—she finds herself falling in love with Albert, even after he confesses his darkest secret. When Ruppert dies, rumors swirl about his connection to Helen after the stunning revelation that he has left her the bulk of his fortune, which includes Yankee Stadium. But it is only when Ruppert’s own secrets are finally revealed that Helen and Albert will be forced to confront the truth about their relationship to him—and to each other.

Inspired by factual events that gripped New York City in its heyday, Bachelor Girl is a hidden history gem about family, identity, and love in all its shapes and colors.


Review:

Passionate, evocative, and thoroughly absorbing!

Bachelor Girl is an intriguing interpretation about the life of Colonel Jacob Ruppert, the wealthy American brewer and owner of the New York Yankees who became known for his successful acquisition of the legendary slugger Babe Ruth, the construction of the iconic Yankee Stadium, and the unusually large endowment he left to a young, unknown actress upon his death.

The prose is eloquent and fluid. The characters are genuine, well drawn, and endearing. And the story sweeps you away to New York City during the 1920s when women were shortening their skirts, cutting their hair and gaining independence, prohibition was in full force, and love in all its forms was expressed but still hidden.

Bachelor girl is a fascinating, well-written, richly described story about friendship, loyalty, familial relationships, sexual identity, secrets, prosperity, ambition, life, loss, and love. And even though there is not much known about Colonel Jacob Ruppert’s close, personal relationships, van Alkemade has done an exceptional job of taking historical facts and surrounding them with fiction that is both captivating and exceptionally alluring.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Kim van Alkemade

Kim van Alkemade was born in New York City and spent her childhood in suburban New Jersey. Her late father, an immigrant from the Netherlands, met her mother, a descendant of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, in the Empire State Building. She attended college in Wisconsin, earning a doctorate in English from UW-Milwaukee. She is a professor at Shippensburg University where she teaches writing, and lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Her creative nonfiction essays have been published in literary journals including Alaska Quarterly Review, So To Speak, and CutBank. Orphan # 8 was her first novel.

#BookReview
White Bodies by Jane Robins
@alfresca @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview White Bodies by Jane Robins @alfresca @SimonSchusterCATitle: White Bodies

Author: Jane Robins

Published by Touchstone on September 19, 2017

Genres: Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 320

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada, Goodreads Giveaways

Book Rating: 7.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

This chilling psychological suspense novel–think Strangers on a Train for the modern age–explores the dark side of love and the unbreakable ties that bind two sisters together.

Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple: young and in love, a financier and a beautiful up-and-coming starlet. But behind their flawless facade, not everything is as it seems.

Callie, Tilda’s unassuming twin, has watched her sister visibly shrink under Felix’s domineering love. She has looked on silently as Tilda stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in Saran Wrap and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom trash. She knows about Felix’s uncontrollable rages, and has seen the bruises on the white skin of her sister’s arms.

Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an Internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends. However, things spiral out of control and she starts to doubt her own judgment when one of her new acquaintances is killed by an abusive man. And then suddenly Felix dies–or was he murdered?

A page-turning work of suspense that announces a stunning new voice in fiction, White Bodies will change the way you think about obsession, love, and the violence we inflict on one another–and ourselves.


Review:

Menacing, dark, and incredibly eerie!

White Bodies is a gritty, gripping, character-driven novel that delves into the dynamic relationship between sister’s, especially twins, and highlights that we only see what people want to show us and even then we only see what we want to see.

The writing is fluid and clear. The characters are multilayered, deceptive, and unstable. And the plot uses a past/present, back-and-forth style to create suspense and tension as it subtly unravels the relationships, histories, personalities, and motivations within it.

White Bodies is ultimately a chilling psychological thriller about family, secrets, obsession, jealousy, mental illness, manipulation, obsession, and murder and is a wonderful debut for Robins in this genre. 

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and Goodreads Giveaways for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Jane Robins

Jane Robins began her career as a journalist with The Economist, The Independent, and the BBC. She has made a specialty of writing historical true crime and has a particular interest in the history of forensics. She has published three books of nonfiction in the UK, Rebel Queen (Simon & Schuster, 2006), The Magnificent Spilsbury (John Murray, 2010), and The Curious Habits of Doctor Adams (John Murray, 2013). More recently, she has been a Fellow at the Royal Literary Fund.

Photography by Mat Smith

#BookReview
Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran

#BookReview Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle MoranTitle: Mata Hari's Last Dance

Author: Michelle Moran

Published by Touchstone on July 19, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 272

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

From the international bestselling author of Rebel Queen and Nefertiti comes a captivating novel about the infamous Mata Hari, exotic dancer, adored courtesan, and, possibly, relentless spy.

Paris, 1917. The notorious dancer Mata Hari sits in a cold cell awaiting freedom…or death. Alone and despondent, Mata Hari is as confused as the rest of the world about the charges she’s been arrested on: treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers.

As Mata Hari waits for her fate to be decided, she relays the story of her life to a reporter who is allowed to visit her in prison. Beginning with her carefree childhood, Mata Hari recounts her father’s cruel abandonment of her family as well her calamitous marriage to a military officer. Taken to the island of Java, Mata Hari refuses to be ruled by her abusive husband and instead learns to dance, paving the way to her stardom as Europe’s most infamous dancer.

From exotic Indian temples and glamorous Parisian theatres to stark German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy.


Review:

This is a fascinating and engaging story about the life of Mata Hari, the famous dancer, courtesan, who was tried and convicted by the French for being a double agent during WWI, and was subsequently executed for treason by firing squad in 1917.

It is told in first-person narration, and it takes us through a life filled with abandonment, abuse, poverty, riches, love, loss, and wartime.

Mata Hari lived in a time when respectable woman were meant to be demure and obedient and she was certainly nothing of the sort. She appeared to be extremely independent and passionate, but one wonders if this was simply a facade for loneliness and naiveté.

I have to admit that I knew very little about Mata Hari when I started this book, and I found her story to be extremely captivating and intriguing.  It certainly leaves you questioning whether she was truly a spy or whether she merely got caught up in all the glitz and glamour and, ultimately, chose the wrong paramours.

The writing is poetic and the story flows effortlessly from page to page. 

I really enjoyed this story and I highly recommend it.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaChapters/Indigo

 

 

About Michelle Moran

Michelle Moran is the international bestselling author of seven historical novels. A native of southern California, she attended Pomona College, then earned a Masters Degree from the Claremont Graduate University. During her six years as a public high school teacher she used her summers to travel around the world, and it was her experiences as a volunteer on archaeological digs that inspired her to write historical fiction.

In 2012 Michelle was married in India, inspiring her seventh book, Rebel Queen, which is set in the East. Her hobbies include hiking, traveling, and archaeology. She is also fascinated by archaeogenetics, particularly since her children's heritages are so mixed. But above all these things Michelle is passionate about reading and can often be found with her nose in a good book. A frequent traveler, she currently resides with her husband, son, and daughter in the US. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

#BookReview
Monsoon Summer by Julia Gregson
@JuliaGregsonUK

#BookReview Monsoon Summer by Julia Gregson @JuliaGregsonUKTitle: Monsoon Summer

Author: Julia Gregson

Published by Touchstone on August 9, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 464

Format: eBook

Source: Touchstone, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

By the award-winning author of East of the Sun, an epic love story moving from England to India, about the forbidden love between a young Indian doctor and an English midwife.

Oxfordshire, 1947. Kit Smallwood, hiding a painful secret and exhausted from nursing soldiers during the Second World War, escapes to Wickam Farm where her friend is setting up a charity sending midwives to the Moonstone Home in South India.

Then Kit meets Anto, an Indian doctor finishing his medical training at Oxford. But Kit’s light skinned mother is in fact Anglo-Indian with secrets of her own, and Anto is everything she does not want for her daughter.

Despite the threat of estrangement, Kit is excited for the future, hungry for adventure, and deeply in love. She and Anto secretly marry and set off for South India—where Kit plans to run the maternity hospital she’s helped from afar. 

But Kit’s life in India does not turn out as she imagined. Anto’s large, traditional family wanted him to marry an Indian bride and find it hard to accept Kit. Their relationship under immense strain, Kit’s job is also fraught with tension as they both face a newly independent India, where riots have left millions dead and there is deep-rooted suspicion of the English. In a rapidly changing world, Kit’s naiveté is to land her in a frightening and dangerous situation…

Based on true accounts of European midwives in India, Monsoon Summer is a powerful story of secrets, the nature of home, the comforts and frustrations of family, and how far we’ll go to be with those we love. 


Review:

This is an intelligent and compelling story that I won’t soon forget.

It is the story of Kit, a young, British nurse who falls in love with a charismatic, Indian doctor, Anto, and travels with him to India, where she hopes to not only be a worthy wife, but also establish a reputable midwifery for those in need.

The story is predominantly set in India during the late 1940s, when the country had newly acquired independence and their separation from British rule caused inner turmoil and a widespread rebuke of the British people as a whole.

This is, ultimately, a story about familial dynamics, racism, deception, self discovery, determination, strength, loss, and love.

The prose is clear, precise, and remarkably descriptive. And the characters are empathetic, engaging, and multifaceted. 

This is truly an interesting story that is intriguing from the beginning to the very end.

 

This book is due to be published on August 9, 2016. 

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Touchstone, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Julia Gregson

Julia Gregson was born in London and had a travelling childhood. Educated at 13 schools, in the U.K. and abroad, she began writing in Australia.
Her first novel, 'The Water Horse,' was runner up in the Waverton Good Read Award.
Her second book, 'East of the Sun', was chosen for the Richard and Judy Book Club and became a Sunday Times best seller, and an international success, translated into 21 languages.
It won Romantic novel of the Year and the Prince Maurice Prize for Literary Love stories.
Her first published short story won the Ryman's Literary Review Prize.
Previously a journalist, for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Times, Good Housekeeping, and Rolling Stone in the U.S.A. she is married and lives in the Wye Valley. She has one daughter and four stepchildren.

#BookReview
Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

#BookReview Rebel Queen by Michelle MoranTitle: Rebel Queen

Author: Michelle Moran

Published by Touchstone on March 3, 2015

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 355

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the 1850s, it expects a quick and easy conquest. After all, India is not even a country, but a collection of kingdoms on the subcontinent. But when the British arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, expecting its queen to forfeit her crown, they are met with a surprise. Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies—one male, one female—and rides into battle like Joan of Arc. Although her soldiers are little match against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi fights against an empire determined to take away the land she loves.

Told from the perspective of Sita, one of the guards in Lakshmi’s all-female army and the queen’s most trusted warrior, The Last Queen of India traces the astonishing tale of a fearless ruler making her way in a world dominated by men. In the tradition of her bestselling novel Nefertiti, which Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, called “a heroic story with a very human heart,” Michelle Moran once again brings a time and place rarely explored in historical fiction to rich, vibrant life.


Review:

I have to admit that when I picked up this book I knew very little about the Indian Rebellion against the British invasion in 1857, and I was not sure what to expect. Saying that, however, I was pleasantly surprised. 

This is the captivating and engaging story of Rani Lakshmibai, the Queen of Jhansi. And It is narrated by Sita, a young girl from a small village who grows up to become a Durgavasi, a select group of women who shield and protect the Queen.

It is a very interesting story about powerful women, independence, self identity, loyalty and sacrifice. The plot builds nicely. The characters are engaging. And the setting is vividly described.

It was a thoughtful, enjoyable read, and I hope that anyone who likes historical fiction will give it a try.

 

 

About Michelle Moran

Michelle Moran is the international bestselling author of seven historical novels. A native of southern California, she attended Pomona College, then earned a Masters Degree from the Claremont Graduate University. During her six years as a public high school teacher she used her summers to travel around the world, and it was her experiences as a volunteer on archaeological digs that inspired her to write historical fiction.

In 2012 Michelle was married in India, inspiring her seventh book, Rebel Queen, which is set in the East. Her hobbies include hiking, traveling, and archaeology. She is also fascinated by archaeogenetics, particularly since her children's heritages are so mixed. But above all these things Michelle is passionate about reading and can often be found with her nose in a good book. A frequent traveler, she currently resides with her husband, son, and daughter in the US. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

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