A Captivating Tale of Identity and Resilience in the Antebellum South

The Kitchen House is a gripping historical novel set in the late 1700s on a Virginia plantation. Lavinia, a young Irish girl who becomes orphaned during her voyage to America, is at the center of the story. The plantation owner takes her in and assigns her care to Belle, a black slave working in the kitchen house, for her care. Lavinia grows up among the slaves, forming deep bonds with her new family, yet she also struggles with her identity and place in the world as she is neither fully accepted by the slaves nor the white family. The narrative unfolds through the perspectives of Lavinia and Belle, revealing the […]

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A Journey Through the 12th Century

  The Road to Jerusalem by Jan Guillou is the first book in the Crusades trilogy, set in the 12th century. The story follows Arn Magnusson, a young nobleman in Sweden destined for greatness. Born into the powerful Folkung clan, Arn receives an exceptional education at the Varnhem Abbey, where he learns both religious doctrine and the art of warfare. His path takes an unexpected turn when he falls in love with Cecilia, a noblewoman, and their forbidden relationship leads to Arn being sentenced to serve 20 years as a Knight Templar. This richly detailed historical novel brings the 12th-century world vividly to life. Guillou masterfully blends historical accuracy with […]

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Hauntingly Beautiful

4.5 stars rounded up to 5. Only the Beautiful is a poignant historical novel set during the 1930s and 1940s that masterfully intertwines the lives of two remarkable women. The story begins in 1938 with sixteen-year-old Rosanne, whose life is shattered by the tragic deaths of her parents and brother in a car accident. Taken in by the owners of the vineyard where she has lived her entire life, Rosanne soon uncovers a dark secret about her new guardians. The narrative then shifts to 1947 Austria, where Helen Calvert witnesses Adolf Hitler’s ruthless pursuit of racial purity. Upon returning to her brother’s vineyard in California, Helen unravels the mystery of […]

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A Mother’s Relentless Pursuit of Justice

3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 The Necklace by Matt Witten is a riveting, page-turning thriller that centers on Susan Lentigo, a mother seeking justice for her seven-year-old daughter Amy, who was brutally raped and murdered two decades ago. The prime suspect, Ray Jansen, a drifter with a criminal record, confesses to the crime but recants before his trial. Nevertheless, the court finds him guilty and imposes the death penalty by lethal injection. On the eve of Jansen’s execution, Susan embarks on a road trip from her home in Lake Luzerne, New York, to North Dakota to witness the execution and find closure. During her journey, she discovers shocking new evidence […]

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Thrills and Chills in the Depths

In Drowning by T. J. Newman, a routine flight turns into a nightmare when a plane crashes into the Pacific Ocean, sinking 200 feet below the surface with twelve passengers trapped inside. As water floods the cabin, a desperate race against time unfolds. A small pocket of air keeps them alive, but the clock is ticking. The story shifts between the passengers fighting for their lives underwater and the frantic rescue team on the surface, working against the clock to save them. Amidst the chaos and fear, the characters reveal their strength, courage, and humanity. Newman delivers a heart-pounding and authentic portrayal of survival, hope, and the indomitable human spirit […]

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A Cultural Exploration of Redemption and Family Secrets

3.5 stars rounded up to 4. “There is no room for hope in the museum of failures. Even if it hangs on the walls for a moment, it usually comes crashing down.”― Thrity Umrigar, The Museum of Failures. The Museum of Failures is a poignant novel that delves into themes of redemption, forgiveness, and the beauty of second chances. Remy Wadia, the protagonist, is tasked with curating an exhibit on failures, a project that parallels his tumultuous personal life. Having left India with resentment towards his indifferent mother, Remy returns years later to adopt a baby and visit his ailing mother, only to grapple with past grievances and newfound revelations. The […]

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A Gripping Political Thriller

“But I believe that evil forces make evil men do evil things. That’s how I anticipate what can and will happen next in life. That’s how I got to be the head of the Mossad, young man. And why I’m good at it. It’s going to be one hell of an August, and my country is going to suffer very badly because your country doesn’t believe in evil, and mine was born out of the ashes of the Holocaust.”—Joel C. Rosenberg, The Last Jihad. Jon Bennett and Erin McCoy, two of Wall Street’s shrewdest strategists, are close friends of the President of the United States. They are working on a […]

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A House Through the Ages

In North Woods, author Daniel Mason crafts a spellbinding historical novel that explores the intricate connections between humans, their environment, and the passage of time. A Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Historical Fiction (2023), it stands out for its unique structure and rich storytelling. Twelve interlinked stories, each corresponding to a season and month of the year, make up the book. Set around a house in the woods of New England, these tales span centuries, beginning with a young couple escaping their repressive village in colonial Massachusetts. Their humble cabin becomes the backdrop for an extraordinary succession of inhabitants from precolonial days to the present day. Among these inhabitants […]

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A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder

In 1741, during the War of Jenkins’ Ear, HMS Wager, a British man-of-war, was part of a squadron sent to capture a treasure-laden Spanish galleon. Separated from the fleet while rounding Cape Horn, the Wager wrecked and left its crew stranded on a desolate island off the coast of Patagonia. Facing starvation and harsh conditions, the crew splintered into rival factions. In a daring escape, 80 men sailed nearly 3,000 miles to Brazil. Six months later, another group of three survivors landed in Chile, in even worse condition. These men accused the Brazilian survivors of mutiny. The ensuing court martial revealed a harrowing tale of warring factions, murder, and cannibalism […]

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A Fever in the Heartland

A Fever in the Heartland is set against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties when the Ku Klux Klan spread beyond the old Confederacy to the Heartland and the West. Their ranks included ministers, politicians, judges, policemen, bankers, and businessmen, all united in their belief in White supremacy. Aligned with the eugenics movement, the Klan even helped pass the nation’s first forced sterilization law. Timothy Egan’s meticulous research is clear, with dialogue and internal monologues drawn directly from court testimony, oral histories, autobiographies, letters, diaries, and newspaper quotes. The book reveals the frightening power and reach of the KKK during this era. The book’s characters are vivid, though they sometimes […]

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