Hello and Happy Tuesday readers! I’m back from vacation and headed back to work tomorrow, so I’m softening that blow by reading whenever I can. Last week I read exclusively historical fiction, so I think this coming week it’s time to change it up a bit. Here’s a look at what I read last week:
I love this historical fiction series about British female agents (spies) leading up to and during WWII. I feel like I waited a long time for this book to come out and now… well, I can’t wait for #8 to come out! This book could be read as a stand alone novel, but to get more out of it, start with the first one, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary. The main character in the books is Maggie Hope, a British citizen raised in America by her aunt after the death of her parents. Back in London to clean out and sell her late grandmother’s house, Maggie decides to stay, and eventually starts working for the government, first as a secretary, and eventually training as a secret agent.
I will say that in several of the books, it seems like Maggie escapes dangerous situations a little too easily (she’s like the female MacGyver in the latest book!) However, if you can get past that, the books are really enjoyable. I like that the author includes historical notes at the end, so you can find out more about the events inspiring the books. The series is labeled as mysteries, but I think that is a stretch – they are more historical fiction in my opinion. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and am happy to provide my honest review. This book comes out today!
There have been a lot of Sherlock Holmes books written, but this is the first one I’ve read where Holmes is a woman. Charlotte Holmes is a brilliant woman who loves solving puzzles and making observations about people. It’s 1896 and she’s expected to be a lady and get married, but the book opens with Charlotte making a decision that ruins her chances at marriage (much to her relief). She leaves her parents’ home and strikes out on her own, struggling to find work and support herself. Meanwhile a string of three murders makes the papers, with Charlotte’s father and beloved sister as possible suspects. Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, consults with the police to solve the murders and try to clear her family’s name.
This book was fun and unexpectedly funny in many parts, particularly once Watson got involved. Charlotte has a lot working against her independence, as do most women in this time period. Her character is fascinating because she doesn’t complain about the rules of society; she just figures out ways to get around them. This is the first book in a new series by this author. Book number two, A Conspiracy in Belgravia, comes out September 5th. I’ve got an advanced copy, thanks to Penguin, and I started reading it immediately after this one!
This is the second book in the Lady Sherlock series, where Charlotte Holmes, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, solves crimes as well as smaller domestic puzzles. I can’t say too much about the plot of this book without spoiling the first in the series, but I will say that I think I enjoyed this one even more than the first. Charlotte continues to be an eccentric, brilliant character who manages to escape society’s pressure to be a lady and marry a gentleman. The mystery here is complicated, in a good way, in that there are several questions she seeks answers to at one time. In fact, we don’t learn the answer to one person’s fate until the very last page. This book comes out September 5th; both this one and A Study in Scarlet Women are paperback originals. I received a free copy from Penguin and am happy to give my honest review.The only draw back to reading this book prior to its publication is that now I will be waiting quite a while for book #3!
This book is set in Texas, shortly after the end of the Civil War. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a 71 year old former printer, now makes his living by traveling from town to town, hosting events where he reads the world news from newspapers the towns don’t receive, or that the townspeople will not or cannot read themselves. One night he is asked by a friend to escort a ten year old girl to San Antonio, to live with her aunt and uncle. The girl’s family was killed in an Indian raid four years ago and she has since been living with the tribe. The U.S. Army has “rescued” her from this tribe, in effect ripping her away from the only family she remembers. The story follows Captain Kidd on his journey to bring Johanna back to her relatives. Their trip is exhausting and fraught with danger, but a bond grows between the two unlikely companions, and in the end, Captain Kidd is not sure he wants to give up Johanna to her relatives.
I’ve read quite a few historical fiction novels set during the Civil War, but not many set in the aftermath, and none in Texas. It was an interesting perspective, and reminded me that at the same time the Civil War was going on, the U.S. government was also fighting the Native Americans, and continuing to drive them from their lands to the west. I enjoyed the characters in this story, and after reading it, found out that some of these characters also appear in another book by the author, The Color of Lightning. I plan on reading that one soon!
That’s all for this week. As much as I love historical fiction, I’m off to find something more contemporary to read. Check back here next Tuesday and I’ll share what I found!