To the Bright Edge of the World

By Eowyn Ivey; Reviewed by Mary Vensel White

to-the-bright-edge-of-the-worldTo the Bright Edge of the World is Eowyn Ivey’s highly-anticipated second novel, another story set in the rugged and breathtaking expanse that is Alaska. Her debut, The Snow Child, was the tale of a pioneering, childless couple who build a little girl from snow and watch her magically come to life. Fans of Ivey’s touching, fairy tale first novel will find much to like in her new one, but it’s another type of story altogether.

The Last Cherry Blossom

By Kathleen Burkinshaw; Reviewed by Carol Baldwin
TheLastCherryBlossom

Twelve-year-old Yuriko has become accustomed to daily air raid drills and the sounds of American B-29s flying over Hiroshima. But even though the sounds are familiar, she is always worried. Will we actually get bombed? What if the school collapses? Will a desk actually protect me? Is my papa safe? How will I find him if a bomb hits us?

Empty Places

By Kathy Wiechman; Reviewed by Carol Baldwin

empty placesKathy Wiechman’s second historical novel, Empty Places, is well-researched, beautifully written, and evocative of time and place (the 1930’s in Harlan County, Kentucky).
Within the first few pages the reader meets spunky, 13-year-old Adabel Cutler who is trying her darndest to keep her family from falling apart. Adabel’s father is a coal miner who drinks too much and fights with her big brother…

Scar

By J. Albert Mann; Reviewed by Carol Baldwin
ScarScar: A Revolutionary War TaleJ. Albert Mann’s first young adult historical novel, is short but powerful. Spanning the course of just three days, Mann artfully alternates between Noah’s present predicament—he is wounded and is caring for a young wounded Indian—and the events leading up to it.

Honey From The Lion

By Matthew Neill Null; Reviewed by Billie Hinton

Honey From The LionBy turns graphic and poetic and sometimes both at once, Matthew Neill Null, in his literary debut, shapes vivid characters, West Virginia history, and a landscape under siege into one finely-hewn novel.

Null meticulously chronicles a community in West Virginia in 1904, as old growth forest is cut by hand using horses to haul the logs. The landscape herself seems to oversee the machinations of men: businessmen, loggers (called timber wolves), union men, a preacher, women. There is union-building going on, conversations in back rooms, and men named Cur and Neversummer, Seldomridge and McBride. The landscape is perfectly rendered, the work of cutting trees is brutal…

Blue Birds

By Caroline Starr Rose; Reviewed by Carol Baldwin

Blue BirdsThis is the reason I love well-written historical fiction: It draws me into a place and time that I am barely familiar with, brushes me with information and imagery, and leaves me wanting to know more. Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose is such a book. Written from the points of view of Alis, the daughter of one of the first British colonists to land at Roanoke Island and Kimi, a Roanoke girl who has lost her father and uncle at the hands of the English, this novel-in-verse creates a plausible backstory of the Lost Colony. The alternating viewpoints are an excellent vehicle to show what it meant to the English and Indians…

Circling the Sun

By Paula McLain; Reviewed by Billie Hinton

Circling the SunThese are the openings to two of my favorite books in the world, so Paula McLain’s Circling The Sun was on my list to read the moment I learned it existed. I was not disappointed. McLain deftly captures the ambiance of colonial Kenya and meticulously crafts Beryl Markham’s own voice. I was immediately drawn into this familiar world, a landscape and a story that has been previously painted so perfectly by Isak Dinesen and by Beryl Markham herself….

The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley

By Susan Örnbratt, Reviewed by Stefanie Kamerman
The Particular Appeal of Gillian PugsleySusan Örnbratt tells us a love story in her debut novel, The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley. Spanning from the years of 2003 to 1946 to 1932, Ornbratt will make you ponder the lengths you would go to find the one whom you love the most.

In the year 1931, Gillian “Gilly” travels to Canada from England for the summer, against her father’s wishes. Gillian meets a handsome young man, Christian, and they…read more here…

Wild Wood

By Posie Graeme-Evans, Reviewed by Stefanie Kamerman

Wild WoodPosie Graeme-Evans, Austrailia’s most beloved best selling author, brings you Wild Wood. One part fairy tale and one part mystery, Wild Wood takes you on an adventure to the hills of Scotland, to help one woman find out who she truly is. 1981: Jesse Marley wakes up in a London Hospital, discovering she suffered from a concussion, keeping her a-bed in a hospital a while. During her hospital stay, Jesse, and her doctor Rory… read more here…

Sisters of Shiloh

By Kathy Hepinstall and Becky Hepinstall Hilliker

Reviewed by Stefanie Kamerman

Sisters of ShilohSisters of Shiloh, co-authored by two sisters Kathy Hepinstall and Becky Hepinstall Hilliker, is a stunning new novel about the bonds of love and the bondage of sisterhood.

September 1862. Libby reads a letter from her husband, Arden, who enlisted in the Confederate army the year prior. A short time later, Libby discovers Arden fought in a… read more here…

A Memory of Violets

By Hazel Gaynor

Reviewed by Stefanie Kamerman

A Memory of VioletsFrom the bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home, Hazel Gaynor captures our hearts and minds again in her stunning new novel, A Memory of Violets.

Flora “Florrie” and Rosie Flynn are two Irish orphans struggling to stay alive on the streets as flower sellers in Victorian London, 1876. Florrie made a promise at her… read more here.

Neverhome, by Laird Hunt

Reviewed by Billie Hinton

Neverhome is the story of a young farmer’s wife, Constance, who recreates herself as a male Union soldier and travels from Indiana to Ohio to “defend the Republic.” She gives her name as Ash Thompson from Darke County, gets her uniform, and marches with her new regiment south to war. Laird Hunt’s lyrical novel is written in the voice of Constance/Ash, and it is her gritty, distinctive voice that drives the story as she quickly earns the nickname Gallant Ash, Read more here.

The Other Typist, by Suzanne Rindell

Reviewed by Linda Lindsey Davis

It is 1924. Prim, plain Rose Baker lives in a boarding house in Brooklyn. She spends her days typing police interrogation reports in a Lower East side precinct. While her work days are filled with stories of shootings, stabbings and robberies, the most exciting thing in her personal life is whether the boarding house stew will be beef or chicken tonight. Rose’s regimented, predictable life begins to fall apart when Odalie Lazar is hired for the precinct typing pool. more…

Turning on a Dime, by Maggie Dana

Reviewed by Carol Baldwin

Time travel. The Civil War. Multi-cultural. Horses. Romance. There aren’t many books that fit such a wide variety of categories—but Turning on a Dime by Maggie Dana does just that.

Samantha DeVries’ father is Lucas DeVries, a third-generation American of Dutch descent and master horseman; her mother, Gretchen, is an African-American and a history buff who has traced her family’s lineage back to 1875.

Caroline Chandler is the daughter of a plantation owner in Mississippi who prefers her brother’s… Read more.

Citadel, By Kate Mosse

Reviewed by Robyn McIntyre

From the story of Sparta’s 300, the Maccabees, through to the lunch counter sit-ins of the Civil Rights movement, history has hundreds of thousands of stories of individuals who continued to fight their enemies, though outnumbered. Most of these stories are framed by what the people were fighting against—tyranny, religious persecution, manifest destiny, genocide. In Citadel, Kate Mosse writes about what the fight is for—love.