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The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
One of the best books I have read! It’s a big one, but way worth the read! This book focuses on a three different story lines woven into one. It starts in 12th century Medieval England. Tom the mason who’s barely able to feed or make means with his pregnant wife (who is pregnant a little unexpectedly and a little too late in her lifetime) his younger daughter Martha, and teenage son Alfred. He is building a house for a wealthy family’s son, Lord William, in which he plans to house his new bride, Lady Aliena. Cold and unfriendly, Lord William storms the property with his horse, almost trampling Tom’s daughter, and calls off the project because his bride to be refuses to marry him. Tom is now poor and out of work on a journey to earn a living and means for his family. Tom’s selfish dream is to build a cathedral, and he won’t stop looking for work until he can, even if it means putting his family in danger and poor living conditions. He then meets Ellen, a gorgeous angelic woman Tom believes is a gift from God. There’s something about her that seems to entrance all.
Phillip is prior of the monastery in the woods but has a bigger dream for his job. He wishes to become head prior of all monasteries, or even Bishop. He wishes to excel and spread gospel to all. But with the King dead, there is a conspiracy between the church and the higher Lords and Barons on who they want on the throne. He finds himself in the middle of the plot, hiding one of the biggest secrets in England.
Lord William has just been rebuked by the beautiful Lady Aliena, whose marriage would have given his family back their high status they believe they deserve. Embarrassed by all of society, William decides to wreak havoc on Lady Aliena and her family and overthrow their castle and royal power, and steal their wealth for themselves after finding out they are involved in the plot to overthrow the monarch. William is a villainous character with no remorse for his actions.
When all three storylines become interwoven, the plot thickens! A great read!
The Witch of Willow Hall, by Hester Fox
Fans of Jane Austen will LOVE this novel! It is set up the same way, and is written in a classic literature style, like many of Austen’s novels are. To me this novel was very similar to Emma, and Pride and Prejudice with a little bit of Gothic Fiction added in, however, Fox puts her own spin on the novel by having the heroine be a descendant of one of the women hanged in the Salem Witch Trials. This novel takes place in the 1820’s in Massachusetts, the Salem Witch trials are long gone, but the people of the community are not opposed to hanging people due to witchcraft so Lydia has to hide her secret. Lydia’s family has to move away to the countryside because a scandal involving her older sister Catherine and brother Charles (roughly around the same age) has damaged their family name. Shortly after arriving at Willow Hall, Lydia and her two sisters Catherine and Emeline meet the handsome and striking Mr. Barrett. But you wonder, what secrets is he hiding behind his handsome façade, and while he is quiet and observant, do his interests lie within Lydia’s family? A novel of romance, hidden secrets, family affairs, and a little witchcraft!
The Other Mrs. Miller by Allison Dickson
Phoebe, a spoiled heiress still reeling from her complicated relationship with her father and now his death, lives in a million dollar home in a private secluded neighborhood cul-de-sac with her husband Wyatt. Her marriage is clearly failing along with her figure. Wyatt only cares about having kids, something that forced their marriage in the first place that ended in a stillborn baby. Since her loss, Phoebe feels no attachment to ever being a mother the standing argument keeping their relationship in shambles. Not to mention a suspicious car parks in a different spot every day in the neighborhood. Phoebe has been keeping track the last couple of months, convinced they are watching her even though they have a U.S. Postal sticker on the side. Is she going crazy or is someone watching her every move? The Napier’s, Ron Vicki and Jake move into the house across the street. Once their attractive high school son Jake goes over and introduces himself to Phoebe, she takes this as her way to spice up her life, while her husband is at work everyday. But part of her plan includes getting closer to the family, thus befriending Vicki. Thus, she becomes distracted and isn’t keeping a close eye on the suspicious vehicle. Vicki and Ron seem to have an abusive relationship, possibly putting both sides at fault and dragging Phoebe in the middle of it. Phoebe doesn’t really seem to know her neighbors as well as she thinks she does. A lusty thriller that completely changes course half way through the book!! You won’t be expecting what happens next!
Searching For Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
A mysterious story of family secrets, Chinese Traditions, temptation, and self realization. Sylvie was born in America. Her parents immigrated to America to live in Queens, NY shortly before Sylvie was born to start a new and prosperous life. As soon as Sylvie is born her parents send her away because they do not have enough money to provide for their child, yet they promise to retrieve her back when they are financially stable. She is sent to live with her grandmother, her mother’s cousin Helena and her husband Willem, and their new baby Lucas her second cousin the same age as her, in Holland. Sylvie grows up in Holland for 9 years under her cousin Helena and her grandmother’s care. Sylvie enjoyed her life in the Dutch country, the only issue was Helena’s watchful eyes. Helena never cared much for Sylvie, and that was the only motherly figure Sylvie had growing up other than her grandma. At 9 years old Sylvie is summoned back to America by her parents she has never met, because she has a new baby sister, Amy, she has to take care of while her parents go to work. She had to leave the only family she knew to come to a strange world where she doesn’t fit in. As she gets older, she learns the only way to be accepted in America is to be smarter than everyone else. She excels in school, gets accepted to Princeton on scholarship, gets a fancy consulting job, marries into a wealthy family, and lives in a million dollar apartment in New York. At 33, Sylvie has the perfect life…or so it would seem.
Sylvie gets a call that her grandmother is sick and dying and she flies back over to Holland to spend as much time with her before she has to say goodbye. She tells Amy and her parents that her job sent her over there to do some work while she was there, so Amy and her family think nothing of it when she doesn’t return a month later, and after her grandmother’s death. Amy gets a strange call from her cousin Lucas in Holland asking for Sylvie, and then realizes that she is missing. This type of book is not my normal style, but I dove in head first and I absolutely loved it! I couldn’t put it down! It will shock you at the end! A MUST read!
The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell
This is a beautifully written novel about finding courage, finding yourself, and finding the love you deserve. 1955, beautiful and young Lillian Oberon is 26 and married to the wealthy widowed aristocrat, Charles Oberon, owner of the large picturesque Cloudesly Estate in England. Charles boasts about his wealth by keeping many Peacocks free-roaming the estate lands, to symbolize his luck and fortune. Lillian feels like just another one of the expensive artifacts Charles collects displayed throughout the mansion that he parades and shows off to his many guests. He doesn’t care for her as a loving and doting husband, as he did when they first met. But there’s a twist, Charles hires a young and thriving artist named Jack to live with them the entire summer as he commissions a mural for Lillian in the forbidden West wing of the mansion. To Lillian, Jack is different than Charles. He is someone that understands and appreciates what she cares about…
In Present Day, Maggie Oberon has been living abroad going place to place since leaving home a year ago. When she gets a phone call that her grandmother Lillian is in the hospital, she goes back to Cloudesly to help care for her at home in her old age. Now Maggie is forced to confront the life she left abruptly behind and piece it back together. While living at Cloudesly again, Maggie starts to uncover the clues to what type of man her grandfather really was, and what happened over 60 years ago in the dusty old mansion. A FANTASTIC Summer read filled with suspense, lust, and family history over the span of over 60 years. My favorite book this year! You MUST read this book!
The Royal Secret by Lucinda Riley
A scandalous novel so close to the royal family it was taken off the press and Lucinda Riley’s career plummeted before even taking off. Originally published in 1998 under the name “Seeing Double” and internationally as “The Love Letter”, this book proved to be too close to the royals being it was just after Princess Diana’s death and close to the Queen’s reign in a start of a new century. Lucinda Riley changed her last name to her maiden name “Riley”, and wrote the Seven Sisters series in the mean time allowing her career as a novelist to regain its status and let the book cool down. Now 21 years later it is finally published! After the death of actor Sir James Harrison, journalist Joanna Haslam starts uncovering strange pieces to a huge secret kept hidden all these years. Joanna comes across a secret letter given to her by an older lady not wanting to reveal who she really is. A thrilling novel and a great read! I am loving it so far! It takes place in 1996 so you have to remember that technology as it is today, phone calls, internet searches, etc. were not as prevalent back then. See if you can figure out why it was only allowed to be published 21 years later…What happened back then?
Circe by Madeline Miller
Greek Mythology. A story of Circe, a Greek Goddess daughter of Helios the Sun God and the Oceanid Perse. A great read about the beginnings of Greek Mythology and Circe’s life growing up in the palace of the God’s, and developing her own power. A great read, I can see why it has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for so long! Halfway through reading now!
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
1780’s London, Jonah Hancock finds himself out of luck when his ship captain comes back after 2 years without his ship, and an interesting item as cargo. The item turns out to be a small shriveled up mermaid with real hair, fingernails, a tail, fins, the works! However, it is dead and dried up, and is the prize for the selling of his ship. With the unwanted suggestion of his captain to show off the mermaid for a business venture, advertising the first ever real mermaid to people of the society for money, Jonah Hancock takes his advice. An unusual debut that examines our capacity for wonder, obsession, and desire. I am loving it!
Enchantée by Gita Trelease
A great 16th century novel that takes place in the court and at the palace of Versailles. Camille a young girl who’s lost her parents to small pox is left to take care of her younger sister while her older brother gambles and drinks away all the money they have even though they are already a poor family. She uses magic taught to her by her mother to turn scraps of metal into coins in order to pay for food and lodgings. After discovering she can do more than just turn coins with her magic, she finds herself spending all hours of the night and morning at the court of Versailles, and conversing with members of Queen Marie Antoinette’s court. Her plan starts out as turning cards at the gambling tables to earn money for her family, but then Camille becomes so accustomed to her new royal life she has a hard time balancing both lives. A great read for adults and young adults, I loved it!
Somerset by Leila Meacham
The prequel story to Meacham’s famous novel Roses, Somerset is set in South Carolina and Texas in the 1830’s. This is a perfect southern read. We get characters like Silas Toliver, cheated out of the family fortune after his father leaves the entire plantation to his first born son, Morris, Silas is willing to risk it all to earn himself a life and fortune of his own. We also meet the witty and smart Jessica Wyndham, daughter of the richest man in South Carolina. She’s a young abolitionist having a hard time adjusting back to life in the south living on her fathers plantation full of mistreated slaves. This novel goes on to span three generations of characters and nearly 100 years of history, with the Civil War and the Texas Revolution as the historical backdrops. I’m falling in love with reading this book!
Dear George, Dear Mary by Mary Calvi
This historical fiction novel beautifully transports you to a colonial era of powdered hair, wigs, and classical music. This is a novel of George Washington’s first love, New York heiress Mary Philipse. This is a never before told story where we get a glimpse at the young and handsome George Washington in his early twenties with Auburn hair and sparkling eyes. This is written using and based on recovered letters sent back and forth between George and Mary, and diary entries. There was an undeniable force pulling them together, yet something keeping them so far apart. You get to see a whole new side of George you’ve never seen… A great romance novel.
The Gown by Jennifer Robson
A beautiful story of the seamstresses and embroiderers of Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding gown. This book jumps back and forth from 1947 right after the Blitz when the people of London are trying to get back to their normal lifestyle, and 2016. In 1947 we meet Ann and Miriam women from two different worlds that develop a lasting friendship while working for Norman Hartnell. Although Ann gets the grand opportunity to work on the Queen’s wedding dress, she hides this fact from her family generations later. In 2016 Heather has just learned that her beloved Nan has died. After looking through her old boxes she finds a scrap of fabric that resembles the famous star shaped flower pattern of the Queen’s wedding dress. Heather starts to put the pieces together to research what her grandmothers life was like at her age. Absolutely adored this book!
The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick
Cornick starts us out in present day with a character named Alison who has time traveled from the 1560’s (Queen Elizabeth I’s reign). Alison has been trying for years to get back to her era. She stumbles upon an old portrait in an art gallery she knows is her closest enemy Mary Seymour. However, they are incorrectly marking the photo as Anne Boleyn and Alison is determined to prove it’s Mary and use it to find a connection back to her time, and find her beloved son Arthur. Mary Seymour is the niece of the late Queen Jane Seymour third wife of Henry VIII, and is the daughter of the late Queen Katherine Parr sixth and final wife of Henry VIII. Mary is stricken from the historical records at two years of age and it is supposed that she may have lived on, since her body or bones were never found. Cornick plays with the idea that Mary did have a life, and was put to the task of helping Alison find her son using her “witchcraft” she didn’t know she had the power to possess.
The Lost Queen by Signe Pike
Set in the early 600’s Languoreth and her twin brother Lailoken are children of the King. Lailoken possesses his late mother’s healing powers and is destined to be a wisdom keeper, yet jealous and wanting of these visions and powers Languoreth is groomed and destined to be Queen. The first book in The Lost Queen Trilogy follows Languoreth through life starting at 10 years old all the way up until she is 32. With mystical and medieval detail, this book will transport you into a time period you couldn’t have ever imagined. Fantastic read! My favorite book of 2018 and new in paperback June 4th 2019!
Katherine of Aragon by Alison Weir
The first of six novels written on all six wives of King Henry VIII. Katherine of Aragon was his first wife, known as the True Queen. Katherine was originally married to Henry’s older brother Arthur, the heir to the throne of England, yet after he died four months into their marriage she is soon remarried to Henry who then becomes heir to the throne of England and known as King Henry VIII. Weir wonderfully writes the novel with her extensive factual knowledge of the historical figures and what their life was like in the early 1500’s. What started out as a marriage full of passion and love soon turned to an obsessive greed for a male heir to the throne of England. A look into the life of a beloved Queen of England, the mother of Queen Mary Tudor, and an inspiring story on what may have actually been Katherine of Aragon’s life. It details the trials and tribulations she faced as Queen, and then after her marriage was annulled and declared invalid.
The Tea Planters Wife by Dinah Jefferies
19 year old Gwendolyn Hooper marries Laurence, an older man who has been widowed with an interesting past. Set in the 1930’s Ceylon, you get the wonderful descriptions of what life was like on a tea plantation at that time, and the mysterious past Laurence holds onto as well. Fan’s of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca will find interesting similarities in this book! What a page turner! This is one of my favorite books I’ve read here! Ask me about it!