A Journey of Courage and Resilience during the Revolutionary War

A Girl Called Samson is a powerful and inspiring historical novel that beautifully blends the struggles of the American Revolutionary War with the personal journey of Deborah Samson. Harmon’s immersive storytelling captures the essence of a turbulent time while highlighting themes of courage, resilience, and identity. Born to Puritan parents in 1760, Deborah Samson becomes an indentured servant after her father abandons the family. Twenty years later, as the American colonies buckle in their battle for independence, Deborah disguises herself as a soldier and enlists in the Continental Army. Her impressive height and lanky build make her transformation a convincing one, and it isn’t long before she is confronting the […]

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Historical Thriller Falls Short Despite Promising Premise

Andrew Gross’s The Saboteur promises a gripping WWII tale of resistance and espionage but ultimately falls short in execution. Set against the backdrop of Nazi-occupied Norway, the story follows Kurt Nordstrum, a Norwegian resistance fighter who teams up with Winston Churchill’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) to sabotage The Norsk Hydro plant, a heavily guarded factory set atop unscalable cliffs where the Nazis are manufacturing heavy water—a crucial component of nuclear weapons. It’s a mission they expect they will not survive. While the author’s meticulous research and inclusion of real historical figures add authenticity, the novel suffers from several significant flaws. One of the most glaring is the lack of character […]

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Disappointing Dive into Dark Themes

Karin Slaughter’s After That Night, the latest in the Will Trent series, left me cold. The novel dives into the lives of Sara Linton, Will Trent, and Faith Mitchell as they navigate a chilling web of privilege and abuse in Atlanta’s elite circles. Fifteen years after Sara’s own trauma, she witnesses the death of a young woman named Dani Cooper, whose brutal assault draws eerie parallels to Sara’s own and she must confront her demons once again. Despite the promising premise, I found myself unable to connect with the story. The narrative felt overly long and failed to maintain my interest beyond the halfway mark. While some may find the […]

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Intrigue, Romance, and Redemption

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). This poignant biblical quote sets the stage for Colleen Coble and Rick Acker’s collaborative novel, What We Hide, a blend of suspense, romance, and spiritual depth. History professor Savannah Webster’s life shattered after losing her toddler and her marriage collapses. Amid her research on the Willard Treasure, pre-Columbian artifacts with a shadowy past at Tupelo Grove University, Savannah stumbles upon forged provenance letters, hinting at a sinister plot to steal from the collection. Matters worsen when her estranged husband, Hezekiah, reappears seeking reconciliation, only for Savannah to find herself embroiled in a murder investigation soon after rejecting […]

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Family Bonds and WWII Secrets

When conflict photographer Jackson Swann passes away, his three estranged daughters find themselves brought together at his vineyard for the reading of his will. JoAnne Ross’s novel, The Inheritance, explores the lives of Tess, a renowned writer and actress; Charlotte, a Southern socialite, trapped in an unhappy marriage; and Natalie, Jackson’s French daughter from a long-term affair, who grew up amidst the vineyard’s rich history. The sisters come together reluctantly and find themselves captivated by the enchanting legacy of their grandmother—a former WWII Resistance fighter in France—and her love for a wounded American soldier who influenced the fate of their family. For readers intrigued by wine culture and WWII history, […]

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A Historical Dive into 19th-Century Asylum Life

The Madwomen of Paris takes us back to 19th-century France, focusing on Laure Bissonet, a talented artist. After her father’s death leaves her homeless and in debt, Laure has a breakdown and ends up in the hysteria ward of the Salpêtrière asylum. As she recovers, Laure works as a resident ward attendant and takes on the responsibility of caring for Josephine, a patient who the asylum’s famous director uses in hypnosis demonstrations. Laure plots their escape from the oppressive institution. The novel vividly depicts the struggles women faced in a society that often labeled them mad for defying norms. It highlights the 19th-century obsession with hysteria and the dangerous treatments […]

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Nostalgia Meets Suspense in Jess Lourey’s The Quarry Girls

The Quarry Girls transports readers to St. Cloud, Minnesota, in 1977, where the summer holds more than just fun and games for teens Heather and Brenda. This seemingly idyllic town is known for late-night swimming parties at the quarry, the county fair, and adventures in the mysterious tunnels beneath the city. However, the summer turns dark when the friends witness something unforgettable in the tunnels and make a pact to keep it secret. Their vow is tested when their friend becomes the second girl to vanish in a week, and the authorities show a disturbing reluctance to investigate. As Heather and Brenda dig into the town’s hidden past, they uncover […]

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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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