Review: Recipe for a Perfect Wife

Title: Recipe for a Perfect Wife
Author: Karma Brown
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Viking
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: December 31, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When Alice Hale reluctantly leaves a promising career in publicity, following her husband to the New York suburbs, she is unaccustomed to filling her days alone in a big, empty house. However, she is determined to become a writer–and to work hard to build the kind of life her husband dreams of, complete with children.

At first, the old house seems to resent Alice as much as she resents it, but when she finds an old cookbook buried in a box in the basement, she becomes captivated by the cookbook’s previous owner: 1950s housewife Nellie Murdoch. As Alice cooks her way through the past, she begins to settle into her new surroundings, even as her friends and family grow concerned that she has embraced them too fully: wearing vintage dresses and pearls like a 1950s housewife, making elaborate old-fashioned dishes like Baked Alaska, and drifting steadily away from her usual pursuits.

Alice justifies the changes merely as research for her novel…but when she discovers that Nellie left clues about her own life within the cookbook’s pages–and in a mysterious series of unsent letters penned to Nellie’s mother–she quickly realizes that the housewife’s secrets may have been anything but harmless. As she uncovers a more sinister side to Nellie’s marriage and with pressure mounting in her own relationship, Alice realizes that to protect herself she must harbour and hatch a few secrets of her own… 

Review:

This book was so good!

This story follows Alice in 2018 and Nellie in 1956. Alice has just purchased the house that Nellie lived in until her death. They both had private struggles in their lives as housewives. They had very different experiences, since the stories take place six decades apart, but there were some similarities. For example, they both had secret and creative ways of preventing themselves from having children.

The two storylines of Alice and Nellie reflect each other but they are separate. Sometimes characters in other books with mirroring lives, like these ones, end up having their stories blend together so they seem like one person. These two characters had similarities but they had very different stories.

There were also some very tense moments. I found myself holding my breath until the end because I didn’t know what would happen. There were some dramatic twists that I didn’t expect.

This was a great novel!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell

In This Moment by Karma Brown

Have you read Recipe for a Perfect Wife? What did you think of it?

Review: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce #7)

Title: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce #7)
Author: Alan Bradley
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Library
Format: Audiobook
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Flavia de Luce—“part Harriet the Spy, part Violet Baudelaire from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” (The New York Times Book Review)—takes her remarkable sleuthing prowess to the unexpectedly unsavory world of Canadian boarding schools in the captivating new mystery from New York Times bestselling author Alan Bradley.

Banished! is how twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce laments her predicament, when her father and Aunt Felicity ship her off to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, the boarding school that her mother, Harriet, once attended across the sea in Canada. The sun has not yet risen on Flavia’s first day in captivity when a gift lands at her feet. Flavia being Flavia, a budding chemist and sleuth, that gift is a charred and mummified body, which tumbles out of a bedroom chimney. Now, while attending classes, making friends (and enemies), and assessing the school’s stern headmistress and faculty (one of whom is an acquitted murderess), Flavia is on the hunt for the victim’s identity and time of death, as well as suspects, motives, and means. Rumors swirl that Miss Bodycote’s is haunted, and that several girls have disappeared without a trace. When it comes to solving multiple mysteries, Flavia is up to the task—but her true destiny has yet to be revealed.

Review:

I love the Flavia de Luce mysteries. She is a hilarious twelve year old girl in the 1950s, who loves chemistry. She stumbles upon mysteries wherever she goes. In this story, she travels to Toronto to attend her mother’s former school. She discovers a body stuffed in the fireplace of her room the first night she is there. She spends the rest of the book snooping to figure out what happened.

I loved this audiobook. The narrator, Jane Entwhistle, was amazing. She had the best voice for Flavia, and the voices she did for the Canadian characters were great too. I really liked how slowly she spoke. It gave me time to listen to the story and understand what was happening. Sometimes audiobook narrators speak so quickly that I have a hard time following the story, but her pacing was great.

I didn’t like the ending of the story. There wasn’t really any way for the reader to figure out what had happened. It felt rushed, with many of the mysteries being uncovered at once.

I really enjoyed this audiobook! I’ll definitely have to listen to more Flavia de Luce audiobooks!

What to read next:

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d (Flavia de Luce #8) by Alan Bradley

Have you read As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust? What did you think of it?

Review: The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding

Title: The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding
Author: Jennifer Robson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: December 31, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France comes an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the twentieth century—Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown—and the fascinating women who made it.

“Millions will welcome this joyous event as a flash of color on the long road we have to travel.”—Sir Winston Churchill on the news of Princess Elizabeth’s forthcoming wedding

London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love. 

Review:

This was a fascinating story about the creation of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

There was an exceptional amount of research done to create this book. The description of the way the dress was embroidered was very detailed, so I felt like was there. There were also some fun moments, such as when there was a story “leaked” to the press, but it was completely wrong.

The narrative alternated between Ann and Miriam in 1947, and Heather in 2016. I could relate to Heather’s story, because she lived in Toronto. I could picture the places she mentioned. I could also imagine the locations in London that were described. I loved the dueling narratives. It gave two different perspectives on the royal wedding, from the people who were there to the people who were curious about the dress in the future.

I learned so much from this story. I loved it!

What to read next:

Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson

The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe by Angela Kelly

Have you read The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Family? What did you think of it?

Review: The Widow of Pale Harbor

Title: The Widow of Pale Harbor
Author: Hester Fox
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Graydon House Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A town gripped by fear. A woman accused of witchcraft. Who can save Pale Harbor from itself?

Maine, 1846. Gabriel Stone is desperate to escape the ghosts that haunt him in Massachusetts after his wife’s death, so he moves to Maine, taking a position as a minister in the remote village of Pale Harbor.

But not all is as it seems in the sleepy town. Strange, unsettling things have been happening, and the townspeople claim that only one person can be responsible: Sophronia Carver, a reclusive widow who lives with a spinster maid in the eerie Castle Carver. Sophronia must be a witch, and she almost certainly killed her husband.

As the incidents escalate, one thing becomes clear: they are the work of a twisted person inspired by the wildly popular stories of Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. And Gabriel must find answers, or Pale Harbor will suffer a fate worthy of Poe’s darkest tales.

Review:

This is a thrilling read for the fall!

I love Edgar Allen Poe stories, especially at this time of year. In this story, someone copied the gruesome murders from his stories in an attempt to scare Sophronia. It was so creepy, but it was also exciting to recognize these elements of his stories.

This story was so fast paced! I couldn’t put it down. There were lots of events that happened quickly, such as the threats against Sophronia. The mystery of Sophronia’s and Gabriel’s secret pasts we’re slowly revealed throughout the story, so it kept me guessing. I loved the twists at the end when the culprit was revealed!

I loved this book! It’s the perfect read for a cold autumn evening!

Thank you Graydon House Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

Tidelands (The Fairmile #1) by Philippa Gregory

Have you read The Widow of Pale Harbor? What did you think of it?

Review: The Lady Rogue

Title: The Lady Rogue
Author: Jenn Bennett
Genre: Young Adult, Historical
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Last Magician meets A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in this thrilling tale filled with magic and set in the mysterious Carpathian Mountains where a girl must hunt down Vlad the Impaler’s cursed ring in order to save her father.

Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it. 

Review:

I really enjoyed this magical, historical story.

Theodora and Huck travel around Romania and Bulgaria in search of her father, and rings that were supposed to belong to the real man who inspired Dracula. This story reminded me of Bram Stoker’s book Dracula, because of the way they traveled around Eastern Europe.

The story was fast-paced. It kept twisting so I didn’t know how it was going to end. The magical elements made it much more unpredictable. It was set in our world, but there were witches with talismans and magical rings, which made the reality uncertain.

The ending of this story left the door open for a sequel. I would love to see these characters go on another adventure.

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Last Magician (The Last Magician #1) by Lisa Maxwell

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Montague Siblings #1) by Mackenzi Lee

Have you read The Lady Rogue? What did you think of it?

Review: Tidelands (The Fairmile #1)

Title: Tidelands (The Fairmile #1)
Author: Philippa Gregory
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: August 20, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

THE BRAND NEW SERIES FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES NUMBER ONE BESTSELLING AUTHOR

England 1648. A dangerous time for a woman to be different . . .

Midsummer’s Eve, 1648, and England is in the grip of civil war between renegade King and rebellious Parliament. The struggle reaches every corner of the kingdom, even to the remote Tidelands – the marshy landscape of the south coast. 

Alinor, a descendant of wise women, crushed by poverty and superstition, waits in the graveyard under the full moon for a ghost who will declare her free from her abusive husband. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run, and shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marsh, not knowing that she is leading disaster into the heart of her life.

Suspected of possessing dark secrets in superstitious times, Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her out from her neighbours. This is the time of witch-mania, and Alinor, a woman without a husband, skilled with herbs, suddenly enriched, arouses envy in her rivals and fear among the villagers, who are ready to take lethal action into their own hands.

Review:

I have loved all of the Philippa Gregory books I’ve read in the past, so I was excited to read this latest novel. The other ones I’ve read have been more focused on the Tudor royals. This one was different because it was about a working class woman in the seventeenth century.

The story started at a slow pace. It began with just two characters, Alinor and James, meeting by chance. She is an innocent women who is accused of witchcraft by gossipers in her village, and he leads a dangerous double life in religion and politics.

I loved how the women tried to fight for their rights. The politics of the country were open to lots of change in this story, with the King in exile. Alinor and her daughter Alys often talked about how unfair their position was, just because they were women. I’m not sure how historically accurate these conversations were, but it was fitting for the contemporary reader.

Though the story started slow, the plot gradually grew into a thrilling story. I was shocked at the surprising ending. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory

Have you read Tidelands? What did you think of it?

Review: Fatal Inheritance

Title: Fatal Inheritance
Author: Rachel Rhys
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Get swept away to the enchanting South of France with this suspenseful historical novel, where perilous secrets lurk under the glitz and glam of seaside wealth. 

She didn’t have an enemy in the world…until she inherited a fortune.

London 1948: Eve Forrester is stuck in a loveless marriage, isolated in her gray and gloomy house when out of the blue, she receives a letter. A wealthy stranger has left her a mysterious inheritance but in order to find out more, she must travel to the glittering French Riviera.

There, Eve discovers she has been bequeathed an enchanting villa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and suddenly, life could not be more glamorous. But while she rubs shoulders with the rich and famous, challengers to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge—challengers who would love to see Eve gone forever.

Alone in paradise, Eve must unlock the story behind her surprise bequest—before her unexpected twist of fate turns deadly…

Fatal Inheritance is an intoxicating story of dysfunctional families and long-hidden secrets, set against the decadence of the Côte d’Azur.

Review:

I was excited to read this new suspenseful, historical fiction novel. It didn’t disappoint.

This story was set in the South of France. I’ve never been there, but I would love to go after reading this book. The setting was incredibly descriptive. It was set in various villas along the coast. Though the story was tense, the setting was calming.

The tension of the story built slowly. The plot began immediately, when Eve was told that she had been given an inheritance by a mysterious man. There wasn’t much progression in that plot until the last third of the story. There were a couple of interesting subplots, that didn’t really have anything to do with Eve’s mystery. The ultimate resolution made sense, and I was happy with where Eve ended up.

This is a great historical read for the summer!

Thank you Simon and Schuster for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys

The Temptation of Gracie by Santa Montefiore

Have you read Fatal Inheritance? What did you think of it?