This month I’m featuring three novels with strong female protagonists and lovely covers. Happy reading!

Becoming Mrs. Smith by Tanya Williams (Available October 10, 2017)

Historical Fiction – World War II South Dakota

In a nutshell: The first in a three part series (two novellas and a full length novel), Becoming Mrs. Smith follows the story of Violet and John from their first meeting as children throughout their relationship during the horrors of World War II. Left with a weak heart after suffering from scarlet fever as a child, Violet is devastated when John enlists in World War II and wonders if the world will ever be right again. Through the series of letters they send to one another, Violet must face her fears and learn how to have hope even in the midst of an uncertain future.

My take: I very rarely read novellas unless I have prior experience with the author’s work. Well, I had the chance to advance read this novella for Tanya Williams, and I am so glad that I did, because it was wonderful! I was a cheerleader for Violet and John from the very beginning, and their relationship both warmed and completely broke my heart. It was one of those stories where you find yourself feeling right along with the characters, and loving them even when their actions are not always so loveable. To express so much in only 110 pages is a grand feat unto itself, and I’m eagerly anticipating the next part.

For more information visit: https://tanyaewilliams.com/

 

Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson

Alternate Historical Fiction/Steampunk – 1888 New York

In a nutshell: What would America be like if the revolution never happened and instead the wealthy and powerful lorded over us all with magic? Magic, really? Yes, stay with me. The wealthy and powerful might have all the magic, but that doesn’t stop some of the people – the Rebel Mechanics – from putting on their work goggles and building machines that do everything magic can do and more. With their steam powered contraptions, freedom is just on the horizon! In walks Verity Newton, hired as a magister governess and also unexpectedly recruited as a spy to the mechanics. As she becomes more entrenched in the cause, she realizes a bigger battle is coming, but who can she trust when no one is exactly as they seem?

My take: My first note is that this is a good example of how traditional publishing and indie publishing can work hand in hand. Book 1 in this trilogy is traditionally published, while books two and three are indie. We all love books, why should we fight about how they’re published?

Now onto the book!

I haven’t read many alternate histories and I haven’t read much steampunk, but this series was both and I really enjoyed it. I thought the premise of what would happen if the American Revolution never occurred was an interesting one, although I’m not sure that I needed to have magic incorporated as the answer. But the author brought up some good points within the magical sphere about social responsibility and how even small differences can separate people. One change I would have made is to have these written from multiple viewpoints, instead of only from Verity’s POV. There were so many playful and strong characters in the rebel movement that we only saw pieces of, and it would have been interesting to expand their stories. Maybe give a few of them their own spin off novellas? Hmm, just a thought.

For more information, visit: http://shannaswendson.com/

 

The Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser

Magical Realism – Modern Day Scotland

In a nutshell: Looking for a way to escape their current depressing lives, Amy Lennox and her mother leave for the tiny island of Stormsay, Scotland. Population: about 20 on a good day. It’s revealed pretty quickly that the Lennox family is one of two families on the island with the power to jump into books, and interact with the characters, but only so much as to ensure the plot remains intact. Seems like a simple task, right? Of course not. There’s a mysterious force on the loose determined to sneak into the major classics and steal all their central ideas, destroying the integrity of the books forever. Working with Amy’s fellow book jumper, Will, and their book character friend, Werther, they race to save their favorite stories before they’re lost forever.

My take: Originally written in German and translated into English, this book is an ode to every avid reader who ever wished we could become a part of our favorite stories. My little book-loving self read right through to the conclusion, enjoying every jump along the way. And the twist at the end was satisfying enough that, for most of the book, I honestly didn’t suspect it. The only thing I wish I’d received more of at the end was details! The author wrapped the story up between the two main characters and the goals they were trying to achieve, but the secondary characters were left in a bit of a limbo. I could have used maybe one of two pages more just to tell me everyone else’s reactions to the story’s conclusion.

One item I should note is that all of the books the characters jump into are classics. Peter Pan, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream … just to name a few. Classic works are the basis of the plot, and modern works are not mentioned at all. I noticed this as a criticism on a few reviews, and before everyone else starts to gripe that a certain boy wizard is not mentioned, I’d like to set down the rationale for this decision in two words: copyright infringement. In general, works published before 1923 are considered public domain and, in most instances, can be referred to and quoted within other works without seeking permission from the copyright holder. This is the reason Mechthild Glaser only uses classics, and the same reason I was able to quote classics in Across Oceans. No one wants to be sued, so fellow authors, please be careful.

For more information visit: https://www.mechthild-glaeser.de/

I’m sorry that her site is in German, but it’s her native tongue after all. I really wish I was fluent enough that I could read everything there!

 

Now it’s your turn!

Read a good book lately? Think others would enjoy it too? Submit your suggestions on the comment page and I just may highlight them in a future post. And don’t forget to leave a review on your favorite book’s site!

Text Copyright © 2017 Kelsey Gietl.

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