Review: The Unbinding of Mary Reade

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Title: The Unbinding of Mary Reade
Author: Miriam McNamara
Genre: Historical, Young Adult
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Source: Thomas Allen & Son (book distributor)
Release Date: June 19, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A clever, romantic novel based on the true story of a girl who disguised herself as a boy to sail with the infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack—and fell in love with Anne Bonny.

There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender.

At least, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate.

The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.

Breathlessly romantic and brilliantly subversive, The Unbinding of Mary Reade is sure to sweep readers off their feet and make their hearts soar.

Review:

I really enjoyed this story. There was lots of romance, and a bit of suspense too.

I flew through this story. It was very fast paced. The chapters alternated between different years. Some flashed back to Mary’s young years, or her first journey on a ship, while others returned to her current pirate life. This made the Mary’s past more mysterious because some parts of her past life are saved until the end.

As soon as I started reading this, I had to look up Mary Reade, who was a real pirate. I could could tell from the way the story was written, that it was based on a true story. Mary’s story is fascinating. She was a woman who dressed up as a man so she could be a pirate. Her mother raised her as a boy because her son, Mark, died after Mary was born. Her son was the grandson of a very rich woman, and she wanted her illegitimate daughter to inherit the woman’s wealth instead. It is a crazy premise for a story, but it is what actually happened to Mary.

I’m curious about Mary Reade now, so I will keep my eyes open for more of her story. I highly recommend this book.

What to read next:

  • Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

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  • Isle of Blood and Stone (Tower of Winds #1) by Makiia Lucier

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Have you read The Unbinding of Mary Reade? What did you think of it?

 

Review: Another Woman’s Husband

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Title: Another Woman’s Husband
Author: Gill Paul
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Headline Review
Source: Purchased
Release Date: November 2, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Another Woman’s Husband is the latest gripping novel from Gill Paul.

Two women who challenged the Crown. Divided by time. Bound by a secret…

1911

At the age of fifteen, carefree Mary Kirk and indomitable Wallis Warfield meet at summer camp. Their friendship will survive heartbreaks, separation and the demands of the British Crown until it is shattered by one unforgivable betrayal.

1997

Rachel’s romantic break in Paris with her fiance ends in tragedy when the car ahead crashes. Inside was Princess Diana. Back in Brighton, Rachel is haunted by the accident, and intrigued to learn the princess had visited the last home of Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, only hours before the crash. Soon, the discovery of a long-forgotten link to Wallis Simpson leads Rachel to the truth behind a scandal that shook the world…

Richly imagined and beautifully written, Another Woman’s Husband is a gripping, moving novel about two women thrust into the spotlight, followed by scandal, touched by loss.

Review:

I love the British monarchy, so I was curious about this story about Wallis Simpson and Princess Diana.

This story has two narratives, one that begins in the early twentieth century and another that begins in 1997, with Diana’s death. The narratives do not focus directly on the two women. The first narrative is about Mary, a friend of Wallis Simpson. The second is about Rachel, a woman who witnessed the crash that killed Diana. Rachel’s boyfriend produces a documentary about Diana’s death, so they have to investigate the crash and the end of her life.

I liked how the story didn’t tell the women’s stories directly, but instead it is told through the eyes of people who watched them, either personally or publicly. The two stories were also tied together to make the narratives complete, though the connection between the women was fictional.

I also liked that there was an explanation of the historical facts at the end of the book. When I read historical fiction, I’m always curious to see what events really happened and what was made up for the book. A lot of this book was made up from facts, though parts that I suspected were fiction, because they made the narrative complete, were made up.

What to read next:

  • Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words by Andrew Morton
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  • Wallis in Love: The Untold Life of the Duchess of Windsor, the Woman Who Changed the Monarchy by Andrew Morton
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Have you read Another Woman’s Husband? What did you think of it?

 

Review: Queen’s Progress (Kit Marlowe #9)

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Title: Queen’s Progress (Kit Marlow #9)
Author: M.J. Trow
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: July 1, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

As advance guard for the Queen’s Progress, Christopher Marlowe tackles murder and intrigue within some of England’s grandest stately homes.May, 1591. When Queen Elizabeth decides to embark on a Royal Progress, visiting some of the grandest homes in England, her new spymaster, Sir Robert Cecil, sends Kit Marlowe on ahead, to ensure all goes smoothly. But Marlowe’s reconnaissance mission is dogged by disaster: at Farnham Hall, a body is hurled from the battlements; at Cowdray Castle, a mock tournament ends in near tragedy; at Petworth, a body is discovered in the master bedroom, shot dead.

By the time he reaches Chichester, Marlowe fears the worst. Are the incidents linked? Is there a conspiracy to sabotage the Queen’s Progress? Who is pulling the strings – and why? To uncover the truth, Marlowe must come up with a fiendishly clever plan.

Review:

This is the first book I’ve read in the Kit Marlow series, and I loved it. Even though I haven’t read the other books, I still understood everything. Some of the characters weren’t described in detail, because they were probably introduced in past novels, but it wasn’t a big problem.

I loved the mystery elements of the story. I had no idea what the solution would be. Each of the stops on the planned route of the Queen’s Progress had to be cancelled due to a commotion or death on the property. Each situation seemed so unique that I wondered how they could be connected. The mystery came together in a great ending.

Some of Christopher Marlow’s contemporaries were in the story. Robert Cecil, Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, was an important character. Will “Shaxsper” also made a couple of appearances in the Rose theatre. I loved how he made up words when he spoke to other people, because he created many of the words that we use today.

I loved this story, and I will definitely look for more in this series in the future!

Have you read this book or the series? What did you think?

Review: Outlander (Outlander #1)

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Title: Outlander (Outlander #1)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Dell
Source: Purchased
Release Date: July 26, 2005 (originally June 1, 1991)
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Review:

 

I originally read this book when the TV series came out. I’m so glad I started this series!

I loved the way the story slowly unraveled. We gradually learn more about Claire’s life when she travels through Scotland. Her life in the twentieth century haunts her in the eighteenth century, especially with her husband’s ancestor, Black Jack Randall.

This is a very emotional story. There is love and pain. There are regrets and promises. Some scenes are hard to read, such as when Jamie was abused in the past. But there are happy scenes as well.

I like the way Claire’s medical knowledge makes people think she’s a witch. It’s also amazing how some of her medical advice has become everyday knowledge today, but back then, no one knew these things.

I love this book. Have you read it? What did you think?

Review: A Study in Treason (The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes Mysteries #2)

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Title: A Study in Treason (The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes Mysteries #2)
Author: Leonard Goldberg
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A continuation of USA TODAY bestselling author Leonard Goldberg’s The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Treason is a new intriguing locked room mystery for Joanna and the Watsons to solve.

The following case has not previously been disclosed to the public due to the sensitive information on foreign affairs. All those involved were previously bound by the Official Secrets Act. With the passage of time and the onset of the Great War, these impediments have been removed and the story can now be safely told.

When an executed original of a secret treaty between England and France, known as the French Treaty, is stolen from the country estate of Lord Halifax, Scotland Yard asks Joanna, Dr. John Watson, Jr., and Dr. John Watson, Sr. to use their keen detective skills to participate in the hunt for the missing treaty. As the government becomes more restless to find the missing document and traditional investigative means fail to turn up the culprit, Joanna is forced to devise a clever plan to trap the thief and recover the missing treaty.

Told from the point of view of Dr. John Watson, Jr. in a style similar to the original Sherlock Holmes stories, A Study in Treason is based partly on facts in our world and partly on the facts left to us by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Full of excitement and intrigue, this mystery is sure to be enjoyed by fans of Sherlock Holmes as well as the works of Laurie R. King and Charles Finch.

Review:

I loved this adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.

This story follows the daughter of Holmes, who is now married to the son of Watson. Watson is also in this story, though he had a stroke so he isn’t able to do much physical work.

I really liked how this story followed the same style of the original Sherlock Holmes stories. The story was told by John Watson Jr. Though Joanna didn’t know her father, Sherlock, she inherited his talent for deduction. She also likes to study different areas of interest, like tobacco and languages, just like Sherlock.

The ending of the story was good too. The culprit was who I suspected. But it was a very clever mystery. It played out just like a Sherlock Holmes mystery, with very complex and hidden clues.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Review: My Name is Victoria

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Title: My Name is Victoria
Author: Lucy Worsley
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

By turns thrilling, dramatic, and touching, this is the story of Queen Victoria’s childhood as you’ve never heard it before.

Miss V. Conroy is good at keeping secrets. She likes to sit as quiet as a mouse, neat and discreet. But when her father sends her to Kensington Palace to become the companion to Princess Victoria, Miss V soon finds that she can no longer remain in the shadows. Her father is Sir John Conroy, confidant and financial advisor to Victoria’s mother, and he has devised a strict set of rules for the young princess that he calls the Kensington System. It governs Princess Victoria’s behavior and keeps her locked away from the world. Sir John says it’s for the princess’s safety, but Victoria herself is convinced that it’s to keep her lonely and unhappy. Torn between loyalty to her father and her growing friendship with the willful and passionate princess, Miss V has a decision to make: continue in silence or speak out. In an engaging, immersive tale, Lucy Worsley spins one of England’s best-known periods into a fresh and surprising story that will delight both young readers of historical fiction and fans of the television show featuring Victoria.

Review:

When I was in London last year, I found this book in the bookstore. I love Queen Victoria, so I was intrigued by this book. Then, when I found out it was being published in North America, I was so excited to get a review copy!

This book was great. I could imagine so many of the places described. Kensington Palace was my favourite attraction in London. I especially loved the room that had a plaque that marked the birth of Princess Victoria in that room! They also went to Windsor castle in this story, which has been all over the news because of Harry and Meghan’s wedding.

Victoria is such an interesting character in this story. She doesn’t fit the image of Queen Victoria at all. I have read other books about her, and as Queen she was fantastic. She wanted to help her people. But in this story, she often behaved like a spoiled little girl. This kept me reading because I was curious to see how she would grow as a character.

There were some twists through the story, especially pertaining to the relationships between characters. I always find that I am googling things when I read historical fiction to see what is real and what is fiction. I had to look up some facts, but I could tell that there was some liberty taken with the story. One thing that I didn’t realize was that Sir John had a wife and family. He has been in other stories I’ve read, but they didn’t focus on his family outside of Kensington, unlike this one which was narrated by his daughter.

I loved this book! Have you read this book? What did you think?

Review: Come From Away

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Title: Come From Away
Author: Genevieve Graham
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the bestselling author of Tides of Honour and Promises to Keep comes a poignant novel about a young couple caught on opposite sides of the Second World War.

In the fall of 1939, Grace Baker’s three brothers, sharp and proud in their uniforms, board Canadian ships headed for a faraway war. Grace stays behind, tending to the homefront and the general store that helps keep her small Nova Scotian community running. The war, everyone says, will be over before it starts. But three years later, the fighting rages on and rumours swirl about “wolf packs” of German U-Boats lurking in the deep waters along the shores of East Jeddore, a stone’s throw from Grace’s window. As the harsh realities of war come closer to home, Grace buries herself in her work at the store.

Then, one day, a handsome stranger ventures into the store. He claims to be a trapper come from away, and as Grace gets to know him, she becomes enamoured by his gentle smile and thoughtful ways. But after a several weeks, she discovers that Rudi, her mysterious visitor, is not the lonely outsider he appears to be, but someone else entirely—someone not to be trusted. When a shocking truth about her family forces Grace to question everything she has so strongly believed, she realizes that she and Rudi have more in common than she had thought. And if Grace is to have a chance at love, she must not only choose a side, but take a stand.

Come from Away is a mesmerizing story of love, shifting allegiances, and second chances, set against the tumultuous years of the Second World War.

Review:

I like historical fiction, but not usually books that are set during WWI or WWII. However, I loved this story!

This story has a real twist on a typical war love story. Rather than being about two people who are torn apart during the war, this story is about Grace and Rudi who meet during the war. The twist is that Rudi is a Nazi who has become stranded in Nova Scotia. The setting and the circumstances make this story unique.

The narrative switches between Grace’s and Rudi’s perspectives. This way, we get to see both sides of the story. Grace doesn’t want to betray her country, but she is drawn toward the German man. Rudi has to be careful about what he does and says in order to stay safe.

I loved this book, and I highly recommend it!