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.

September Fic Picks

If you’re searching for your next read, each month I’ll be highlighting my favorite titles. Usually this will be historical fiction – it is my genre after all! – but I also like to read around. So don’t be surprised if a fantasy, contemporary romance, or non-fiction shows up just to keep things interesting!

24875387Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams

Historical Fiction (1936-1938 France and Germany, 1966 America)

In a nutshell: Piper, secretly pregnant by a famous politician in the 1960’s and trying to escape her past, sells her car to Annabelle, who claims the vehicle saved her from Nazi Germany. Over the next 400 pages, the author weaves an intricate tale between the lives of Annabelle, her Jewish lover, and her Nazi husband, revealing how sometimes incorrect assumptions are more damaging than awful truth. And how people do not always act how we expect them to in the end.

My take: Dual period historical fiction pieces seem to be all the rage right now. For those who are not familiar with this style of writing, it simply means that chapters alternate between two different stories set in two different time periods. I’ve read several of these books over the last year, and Along the Infinite Sea was easily my favorite so far. It was refreshing to read a World War II novel that did not take place either in the heart of the fighting or completely within a concentration camp. While those books are definitely needed, and I could recommend many, it’s also interesting to read about more unfamiliar events of a familiar time period. The writing flowed well, the romantic aspects felt relatable without being explicit, and I loved the complicated dynamic between the three main characters. Although this is my first read by Ms. Williams, I can tell it won’t be my last adventure with her.

For more information visit: beatrizwilliams.com

 

51LFBxTke-L__SY346_Swept to Sea by Heather Manning

Christian Historical Fiction (17th Century England and the middle of the Atlantic)

In a nutshell: Lady Eden Trenton is engaged to a man that by all outward appearances is a fine match, and in private is an abusive horror. Determined not to succumb to such a life, she stows away on a privateer ship bound for the Caribbean. Being lousy at hiding, she is quickly discovered by Caspian Archer, a sea captain bent on revenge against the pirate who killed his wife and left him with a five-year old son to care for. While both parties have vowed never to lose their hearts to another, as any good romance goes, they quickly discover that there could be much more to their relationship than mere passenger and sea captain.

My take: This novel was such a delightful read. I found Heather Manning on Hometown Reads, a fabulous little site that helps readers find local authors in their hometown. She was 16 at the time that she wrote this novel, and, while some aspects in characterization and dialogue showed her youth, the novel as a whole easily compared to many other Christian fiction novels on the market. The author incorporated the religious aspects well, highlighting the faith of the characters without force-feeding it to the reader. Historically, she seemed to have all her facts in place with one exception; the difference between a pirate and a privateer was not explained until nearly 100 pages in. At its most basic, a privateer is legal and a pirate is not (The Mariners’ Museum and Park gives a good explanation here). If I did not have this advance knowledge, I would have viewed Caspian’s character quite differently. All in all though, this book made for a light, fun, weekend read. I’m looking forward to seeing more from this author.

For more information visit: heathermauthor.blogspot.com

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.