Monday, May 07, 2012

Three new reviews

Careful readers may notice that I've temporarily stopped accepting review queries.  This isn't because I've ceased writing reviews... quite the opposite.  My TBR has grown to enormous proportions, and it didn't seem fair to take on more assignments when so many books were already in the pipeline.

I've also been working my way through a growing pile of ARCs sent to me by Booklist, many of them by debut historical novelists.  Not that I'm complaining... my editor tends to pick better books for me than I do for myself, and odd as it seems, sometimes I like not having to choose what to read next.  When left to my own devices, I can wander around my home library for hours, perplexed by this wrenching decision (and wasting precious reading time in the process).

Most of these books have been excellent, and I'll be reprinting a selection of the reviews on the blog after they appear in the magazine.

Besides all this, three of my reviews just went online at the Historical Novel Society's site.  Judging by everything I've read so far in 2012, it's a very good year for historical fiction. 

Overseas, by Beatriz Williams (Putnam, official pub date May 10th) is a gushy, epic love story that combines modern Wall Street, the popular WWI era, time travel, romance, mystery, and more.  Did I mention the to-die-for Edwardian hero?  It's great summer escapism.  I'm afraid I got a bit gushy in my review in return... I couldn't help it.

Julie Cantrell's Into the Free (David C. Cook, Feb.) is a very different sort of historical novel.  Gritty yet hopeful, it tells of the painful coming of age of a poverty-stricken young woman in Depression-era Mississippi.  Although you'll find in the inspirational section of your local bookstore, there's no reason it should be limited to a Christian audience.

Finally, Anne Brear's To Take Her Pride (Knox Robinson, March), a saga of Victorian-era Yorkshire, was a delightful surprise.  I got it as a Kindle freebie during the publisher's promotion weekend and meant to read just the beginning - I was in the middle of something else - and found myself wanting to return to the story.  What began as a pleasant enough historical romance developed into much more. This was the first review I've ever done from an electronic copy, too.

The links above lead to my writeups.  Both the Williams and Cantrell are debuts, and I've since bought several of Anne Brear's earlier novels (she used to write as Anne Whitfield).


  1. Anonymous3:31 PM

    Julie Klassen is another "inspirational author" whose books appeal to a wide audience looking for well-researched historical fiction with some suspense and romance.

    Sarah Other Librarian

  2. Anonymous3:33 PM

    Oh, and I loved OVERSEAS as well - got an ARC at PLA and just devoured it. Great summer reading.

    Sarah Other Librarian

  3. I'm going to be watching for these to show up at my local library--especially the first one.

  4. Julie Klassen is an author I've been meaning to read. Not being religious myself, I figure I'm a good test for whether a Christian fiction novel appeals to a mainstream audience!

    I forgot to mention that Overseas fits the Chunkster Challenge. (Yay - one more chunkster for me!) The author has a guest post there, and a chance for challenge participants to win a copy.

  5. Anonymous12:56 PM

    Julie Klassen has been a big hit with my RA class students, which has surprised me. Quite a few are young and they read edgy stuff, but they have taken to her. It didn't hurt that we had a speaker from Bethany House and he brought copies . . .

    Sarah Other Librarian

  6. Overseas sounds great -- I need to get my hands on it! V thrilled to hear you got gushy about it!

  7. Sarah - I like that Klassen writes about Regency and Victorian-era characters who aren't of the nobility. There isn't much of that around these days.

    Audra - Overseas is so much fun! Esp in seeing how an Englishman from the WWI era, with his very different ideals, would react if plopped down into 20th/21st-century NYC. It's quite a refreshing change.

  8. The Maid of Fairbourne Hall was fantastic, and very light on the 'religious' part, so I definitely recommend it to you.
    And I agree, it is going to be a fabulous year for HF, and that is slightly disappointing as I still need to catch up with last years'.
    Definitely putting a hold on the reviews for the future as well since I am bogged down. Again.

  9. Your reviews of Klassen's novels are one big reason they've moved up on the TBR, Marie!

    I enjoy reading historical novels with religious themes because they don't shy away from honest portrayals of what life was like in earlier times. Mainstream historical novels often downplay the strong effect that religion would have had on characters' lives. What I don't care for is when Christian HF gets preachy toward the reader. I'm not offended by it, but it yanks me right out of the story.

    Catching up on HF from earlier years is always hard. I have books I bought a decade ago that I still haven't read!