Waiting on Wednesday 27/4/2016

It’s Waiting on Wednesday!

My pick for this week is The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray.

gildedFirst, a synopsis from Amazon:

After growing up on a farm in Virginia, Walthingham Hall in England seems like another world to sixteen-year-old Katherine Randolph. Her new life, filled with the splendor of upper class England in the 1820s, is shattered when she discovers the corpse of her brother George in a lake on the estate-the tragic accidental drowning of a young man, the coroner reports, despite the wound to George’s head.

Katherine is expected to observe the mourning customs and get on with her life, but she can’t accept that her brother’s death was an accident. A bitter poacher prowls the estate, and strange visitors threaten the occupants of the house. There’s a rumor, too, that a wild animal stalks the woods of Walthingham.

Can Katherine retain her sanity long enough to find out the truth? Or will her brother’s killer claim her life, too?

Continue reading

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At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier

I received an advance copy of this to review in a Goodreads Giveaway. I’m so glad I got this book! It was so engaging and I read a majority of it in one sitting. Tracy Chevalier has a talent for writing historical characters. I especially appreciated her depiction of John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed.

Before I say anything else, a synopsis from Amazon:

orchardWhat happens when you can’t run any further from your past?

Ohio, 1838. James and Sadie Goodenough have settled in the Black Swamp, planting apple trees to claim the land as their own. Life is harsh in the swamp, and as fever picks off their children, husband and wife take solace in separate comforts. James patiently grows his sweet-tasting ‘eaters’ while Sadie gets drunk on applejack made fresh from ‘spitters’. Their fighting takes its toll on all of the Goodenoughs – a battle that will resonate over the years and across America.

Fifteen years later their youngest son, Robert, is drifting through Gold Rush California and haunted by the broken family he fled years earlier. Memories stick to him where mud once did. When he finds steady work for a plant collector, peace seems finally to be within reach. But the past is never really past, and one day Robert is forced to confront the brutal reason he left behind everything he loved.

In this rich, powerful story, Tracy Chevalier is at her imaginative best, bringing to life the urge to wrestle with our roots, however deep and tangled they may be. Continue reading

By Royal Command and The Betrayal by Mary Hooper

So, I finished Mary Hooper’s “At the House of the Magician” series.

byroyalSynopsis from Amazon:

Lucy has become a firm fixture in the household of Dr Dee, a real-life figure who was court magician to Queen Elizabeth 1. Lucy, in return for saving the queen’s life, has been told that she is to work as a spy for Her Grace and that she is to remain with the Dee family and await further instruction …And then Lucy hears unexplained cries in the Dee house, and finds a young girl imprisoned there. What is Dr Dee doing? Lucy means to find out. A thrilling historical story, full of intrigue and royal plots and counter-plots, from the acclaimed Mary Hooper.

Okay, so I have to admit, this book wasn’t quite as interesting as the synopsis would lead. That storyline maybe takes up two chapters at the beginning of the book. The rest of it is Lucy being given a spying task – to watch one of QE1’s ladies and follow her. That was interesting, because in one of the events where she follows her, she flees down the river toward London and it was fun to hear the different places she was going through. This book felt a little weak, but again, it’s aimed at middle schoolers. Continue reading

At the House of the Magician by Mary Hooper

I remember reading a synopsis for this book a while ago, and then I completely forgot the title and tried searching for it desperately (it’s not listed on John Dee’s Wikipedia page!). I was so happy to come across it again, all thanks to my previous charity shop find (Fallen Grace)! I ordered the series so that I wouldn’t forget it again.

I had the privilege of studying under one of the leading John Dee scholars when I was doing my MA. I find John Dee to be fascinating. He was on the Crown’s payroll to try to turn lead into gold, and is best known for his speaking to angels and conjuring of spirits.

magicianFirst, a synopsis from Amazon:

Lucy has been forced to run away from home as she fears for her safety from her drunken father. She is taken on as a maid at the house of Dr Dee, court magician, upon whom Elizabeth I relies heavily, even down to advising the date of her coronation. The household is strange and sinister, and Lucy has a nose for intrigue …And she has more than enough to satisfy her: Lucy stumbles across a plot to assassinate the queen and has to find means to warn her…

Well, that was short and sweet, but it pretty much sums it up. I’m sure that this was written for middle schoolers. It’s not very long at all, the storyline is simple, and it’s educational. Continue reading

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

So, yesterday I decided that I would venture into East London to go to Amnesty International’s £1 book sale! My husband went with me because I had never really been to East London, and he was hoping to find some books for his history and politics course.

Aaand because we went by train, I had loads of time to read! I started and finished Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper yesterday.

fallenHere is the synopsis from Amazon:

Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant’s body in a rich lady’s coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper’s grave.

Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound effect upon Grace’s life. But Grace doesn’t know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune.

A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister. Continue reading

The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff

I love charity shops, don’t you? They’re so full of treasures. You really never know what you’ll find. I walked into a Princess Alice when I first moved here and found a novel about Henry VIII with a Borders sticker on it – four years after they went out of business and in a completely different country!

Anyway, on my last expedition to Oxfam, I was really surprised to see this lovely little book tucked into the children’s hardcover section. It boasted that it was a Carnegie Medal Winner, and is pitched as “magical” and a “children’s novel for adults” (which I love – The Little Prince is my favorite). It was only £1, so I gave it a shot.

brides_farewell_ukSynopsis from Amazon:

On the morning of her wedding, Pell Ridley creeps out of bed in the dark, kisses her sisters goodbye and flees – determined to escape a future that offers nothing but hard work and sorrow. She takes the only thing that truly belongs to her: Jack, a white horse.

The road ahead is rich with longing, silence and secrets, and each encounter leads her closer to the untold story of her past. Then Pell meets a hunter, infuriating, mysterious and cold. Will he help her to find what she seeks?

Inside is a beautifully written, vivid coming-of-age tale. Like the synopsis states, we begin our story with Pell sneaking off in the middle of the night. She is confronted by her foster brother, Bean, who is mute, but demands to accompany her. They travel through the New Forest, reach Salisbury where Pell intends to find work, and eventually become separated. The rest of Pell’s journey is spent trying to find her lost brother and the horse that had been taken from her. Continue reading