• Books,  Books Reviews

    Cherokee America

    Published in 2019 WRITTEN BY MARGARET VERBLEREVIEW BY KATIE STINE For some, the idea that the United States government enveloped sovereign nations sounds strange. But this novel reminds the reader that sovereign entities existed amongst the American states. Set in 1875, before Oklahoma was created, the Cherokee Nation was home to the titular character. Check, the main character, is the center of a powerful family in the Cherokee Nation. Two of her five sons are nearly grown, and her husband is on his deathbed. The dance of full-blood, mixed-blood (the “Cherokee-ness” of a person is not the tint of the skin, but the ways in which one chooses to live), white, and…

  • Books,  Books Reviews,  Writing

    A Search for Peace: Ann Weisgarber’s The Glovemaker

    Published in February 2019 issue of The Historical Novel Review The poorly-defined middle ground Our world is neither black nor white, which might be why we tell stories about the areas of gray. The Glovemaker is a world full of such in-betweens: neither, but, if only. The story is set in 1887 in the Utah Territory, and the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or LDS for short) is going through upheaval as polygamy is outlawed by the US government. Author Ann Weisgarber uses the conflict between church and government as monolithic opponents which catch regular people between them, not unlike the geographical canyon walls among which the…

  • Books,  Books Reviews,  Writing

    A Sinner Without A Saint (The Penningtons)

    Published in 2018 WRITTEN BY BLISS BENNET REVIEW BY KATIE STINE In this stand-alone Regency romance novel, fourth in the Pennington Series, the world of the art collector is explored. The sparkling protagonist, Lord Dulcie, is a Regency anti-hero: manipulative and flippant, but sartorially forward. His one goal, since he will not be siring any heirs, is to become London’s next artistic tastemaker, collecting the best paintings Europe can offer. A schoolboy crush, Pennington, has other ideas: a public collection of paintings for the betterment of all. But is there more to Art than just the Masters? The author does an excellent job of describing art during a period of change, as Romanticism…

  • Books,  Books Reviews,  Writing

    A Gentleman Never Keeps Score: Seducing the Sedgwicks

    Published 2018 WRITTEN BY CAT SEBASTIAN REVIEW BY KATIE STINE An interracial gay Regency romance (fun to say at parties), A Gentleman Never Keeps Score is the second in the Seducing the Sedgwicks series but stands on its own. Hartley Sedgwick spent his late teens as the life of the libertine society party. While it cost him dignity and self-respect, it gained his brothers the advantages that only money can buy. Now his patron is dead, and he has inherited the fashionable mansion, but he has been exposed as a sodomite. Sam Fox, a black ex-boxer turned pub owner, doesn’t exist in the same sphere as Hartley. When his brother’s lover confesses she had posed…

  • Books,  Books Reviews,  Writing

    Confessions of the Fox

    Published 2018 WRITTEN BY JORDY ROSENBERG REVIEW BY KATIE STINE Confessions of the Fox is ostensibly set in 1713-1724, following Jack Sheppard, thief and lover extraordinaire. But, is it? Jack Sheppard is a thief, but only because he must. He is an extraordinary lover, but only to Bess, who sees his true self, his “wonderful, fetching Something.” And before that, Jack was treated as a girl named P— by his mother and his enslaver. Finally realizing he could break his literal shackles, Jack Sheppard emerges. But is Confessions of the Fox a novel set in the 18th century? Well, yes and no. The footnotes reveal a university professor who has discovered this manuscript and must authenticate it. But…

  • Books,  Books Reviews,  Writing

    Road to Newgate

    Published 2018 WRITTEN BY KATE BRAITHWAITE REVIEW BY KATIE STINE Suspicion and religion are intertwined in London in 1678, a little over a decade after the Great Fire ravaged the city. Nathaniel Thompson, a newlywed political writer, has found his nemesis: Titus Oates. Titus Oates is an instigator, a man who whips up public fear over a Popish Plot. King Charles II has no direct heir, and when he dies, the crown will go to his Catholic brother. Titus places himself in the middle of it all, the witness to Jesuit machinations against the King, and by extension, against the struggling London populace. Nathaniel knows that Titus Oates lies, bribes, and threatens his…

  • Books,  Books Reviews,  Writing

    The Removes

    Published 2018 WRITTEN BY TATJANA SOLI REVIEW BY KATIE STINE In the late 19th century, General Armstrong Custer embodied the mixed feelings of Manifest Destiny in the United States, and this book not only depicts the uneasy alliance people had with the handsome soldier, but also evokes the feeling in the reader as well. This novel weaves together the story of Custer, known as “Autie” to his wife, Libbie, with the story of a young, white pioneer girl who is captured by the Cheyenne during a frontier raid. The author does not shy away from the gruesome historical details, and there are times that one can almost smell the blood in the prairie…

  • Books,  Books Reviews,  Writing

    Kiss of the Spindle

    Published in 2018 WRITTEN BY NANCY CAMPBELL ALLEN REVIEW BY KATIE STINE The titular Sleeping Beauty in this fairy tale retelling set in the steampunk version of Victorian England is Dr. Isla Cooper. She is an empath for shapeshifters, an embattled class of people, but in her spare time, she looks after her younger sister. In an attempt to gain some unchaperoned freedom, the younger sister administers a sleeping curse to Isla that has unforeseen consequences. Undaunted by adventurous research, Isla blackmails her way on board an airship (because steampunk) bound for the Caribbean to find the witch who made the curse. Shifters, politics, automatons, love, and a small monkey ensue. While the…

  • Books,  Books Reviews,  Writing

    The Dutch Wife

    Published 2018 WRITTEN BY ELLEN KEITH REVIEW BY KATIE STINE In 1943, a Dutch woman, Marijke, is arrested with her husband in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. They are both sent to camps—her to Ravensbrück, him to Buchenwald—as political prisoners, a higher echelon of inmate. When Marijke is offered a chance to be a prostitute at a new prisoners’ brothel at Buchenwald, she goes—hoping that she will find her husband. Instead, she finds Karl, an SS officer who finds her to be the distraction he needs from the unseemly duties of overseeing torture and executions. Thirty years later, a young man in Argentina, Luciano, is taken by the Peronist regime for attending student protests. Among the…

  • Writing

    Peculiar Ground

    Published 2017 WRITTEN BY LUCY HUGHES-HALLETT REVIEW BY KATIE STINE Set in both the 1660s and the 1960s, this debut novel explores the workings of a fictional English manor house called Wychwood. In the 1660s world, the newly restored Lord Woldingham hires landscape architect Mr. Norris to create the elaborate waterways that will eventually mark the estate. While fastidious in his work, Norris misses many subtle clues to the delicate social balance of the Wychwood residents, recovering from the upheaval of the Civil War and the Restoration. Norris blunders into many unenviable positions, driven not only by his desire to create beauty, but also his desire for Lord Woldingham’s niece, Cecily. Pursuing Cecily’s…

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