Book Review: India Black (Madam of Espionage #1) by Carol K. Carr

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India Black: In the red-light district of London, India Black is in the business of selling passion her clientele will never forget. But when it comes to selling secrets, India’s price cannot be paid by any man…

In the winter of 1876, the beautiful, young madam, India Black, is occupied with her usual tasks. Keeping her tarts in line, avoiding the police, and tolerating the clergyman bent on converting her girls. But when Sir Archibald Latham of the War Office dies from a heart attack while visiting her brothel. India is unexpectedly thrust into a deadly game between Russian and British agents. Both who are seeking the military secrets Latham carried.

Her majesty’s secret service…

French, the handsome, British spy, discovers India disposing of Latham’s body and blackmails her into recovering the missing documents. Their quest takes them from the Russian embassy to Claridge’s Hotel, from London to the English coast. All the while dodging Russians intent to do them harm.

But it is their own tempestuous relationship they will have to weather. As India and French attempt to resist the mutual attraction between them. An attraction that can prove as deadly as the conspiracy entangling them.

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Book Review: The Queen’s Lady (Thornleigh #1) by Barbara Kyle

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The Queen’s Lady: Abducted as a child-heiress, Honor Larke escapes to London seeking justice from the only lawyer she knows: the brilliant Sir Thomas More. With More as her affectionate guardian, Honor grows to womanhood. When the glitter of the royal court lures her to attend Her Majesty, Queen Catherine of Aragon. But life at Henry VIII’s court holds more than artifice for an intelligent observer. And Honor knows how to watch—and when to act. . . .

How to help a Queen…

Angered by the humiliation heaped upon her mistress as Henry cavorts with Anne Boleyn and presses Rome for a divorce. Honor volunteers to carry letters to the Queen’s allies. It’s a risky game, but Honor is sure she’s playing it well. Until someone proves her wrong. Richard Thornleigh may cut a dashing figure at court. However, Honor doesn’t fall for his reckless charm. Only later does Honor realize that Richard has awakened something within her—and that he, too, has something to hide. . .

For the King’s actions are merely one knot in a twisted web that stretches across Europe. Ensnaring everyone from the lowliest of peasants to the most powerful of nobles. Swept away in a tide of intrigue and danger. The Queen’s lady is about to learn everything: about pride, passion, greed—and the conscience of the King. . . .

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Book Review: When We Were Brave by Karla M. Jay

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Aug. 2019 Silver medal winner in Reader’s Favorite Contest for historical fiction.
Nov. 2019 New York City Big Book Award® Distinguished Favorites

In WHEN WE WERE BRAVE, we find a conflicted SS officer, Wilhelm Falk, who risks everything to escape the Wehrmacht and get out the message about the death camps. Izaak is a young Jewish boy whose positive outlook is challenged daily as each new perilous situation comes along. American citizens, Herbert Müller, and his family are sent back to the hellish landscape of Germany because of the DNA coursing through their veins. In the panorama of World War II, these are the high-stakes plots and endearing characters whose braided fates we pray will work out in the end.

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Book Review: The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford

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Hoping to make a clean break from a fractured marriage, Agatha Christie boards the Orient Express in disguise. But unlike her famous detective Hercule Poirot, she can’t neatly unravel the mysteries she encounters on this fateful journey.

How will the journey go?

Agatha isn’t the only passenger on board with secrets. Her cabinmate Katharine Keeling’s first marriage ended in tragedy, propelling her toward a second relationship mired in deceit. Nancy Nelson—newly married but carrying another man’s child. Is desperate to conceal the pregnancy and teeters on the brink of utter despair. Each woman hides her past from the others, ferociously guarding her secrets. But as the train bound for the Middle East speeds down the track. The parallel courses of their lives shift to intersect, with lasting repercussions.

Filled with evocative imagery, suspense, and emotional complexity. The Woman on the Orient Express explores the bonds of sisterhood forged by shared pain and the power of secrets.

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Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians #1) by Kevin Kwan

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Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back.

So what else happens?

Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.
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Book Review: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba

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William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger. And a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find. But William had read about windmills in a book called Using Energy. And he dreamed of building one that would bring electricity and water to his village. And change his life and the lives of those around him. His neighbors may have mocked him and called him misala—crazy—but William was determined to show them what a little grit and ingenuity could do.

Was he Misala?

Enchanted by the workings of electricity as a boy, William had a goal to study science in Malawi’s top boarding schools. But in 2002, his country was stricken with a famine that left his family’s farm devastated and his parents destitute. Unable to pay the eighty-dollar-a-year tuition for his education, William was forced to drop out and help his family forage for food as thousands across the country starved and died.

Yet William refused to let go of his dreams. With nothing more than a fistful of cornmeal in his stomach. A small pile of once-forgotten science textbooks, and an armory of curiosity and determination. He embarked on a daring plan to bring his family a set of luxuries that only two percent of Malawians could afford and what the West considers a necessity—electricity and running water. Using scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle halves. William forged a crude yet operable windmill, an unlikely contraption and small miracle that eventually powered four lights. omplete with homemade switches and a circuit breaker made from nails and wire. A second machine turned a water pump that could battle the drought and famine that loomed with every season.

Never give up

Soon, news of William’s magetsi a mphepo—his “electric wind”—spread beyond the borders of his home. And the boy who was once called crazy became an inspiration to those around the world.

Here is the remarkable story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual’s ability to change his community and better the lives of those around him.

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Book Review: The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music by Steve López

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When Steve Lopez sees Nathaniel Ayers playing his heart out on a two-string violin on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. He finds it impossible to walk away. At first, he is drawn by the opportunity to crank out another column for the Los Angeles Times. Just one more item on an ever-growing to-do list: “Violin Man.”

Things change…

But what Lopez begins to unearth about the mysterious street musician leaves an indelible impression.” “More than thirty years earlier, Ayers had been a promising classical bass student at Juilliard. Ambitious, charming, and one of the few African-Americans. Until he gradually lost his ability to function, overcome by a mental breakdown. When Lopez finds him, Ayers is alone, suspicious of everyone, and deeply troubled, but glimmers of that brilliance are still there.”

From an impromptu concert of Beethoven’s Eighth in the Second Street tunnel to a performance of Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites on Skid Row, the two men learn to communicate through Ayers’s music.

The Soloist is a story about unwavering commitment, artistic devotion, and the transformative magic of music.

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Book Review: Billy Elliot by Lee Hall

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Set in northern England during the 1984 miner’s strike, “Billy Elliot” tells the story of a young working class boy who chooses not to follow his widowed father’s instructions to train to be a boxer. Instead, fascinated by the ballet class sharing the same building as his gym, Billy hangs up his gloves to pursue dreams of being a dancer.

But even as he discovers his virtuoso gift for ballet he must hide his triumph from his father and brother — both miners on strike struggling to keep food on the table. A hit at last years Cannes Film Festival and a smash success in the UK just one week into its premiere, “Billy Elliot” is being hailed as one of the best films of the year.

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Book Review: An Inconvenient Wife by Megan Chance

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In this wholly absorbing historical novel, Mrs. Lucy Carelton, who comes from one of the wealthiest and most prominent families in 1880s New York City, has been completely undone by her nerves. Her ambitious husband. A nouveau riche stockbroker, drags her from one doctor to another in search of a cure that will allow her to fulfill her many social obligations without giving in to hysteria.

They think they have found the solution in charismatic neurologist Victor Seth. A champion of a relatively new procedure called hypnotism. Seth sets about freeing Lucy from the social constraints that have made her so unhappy. While encouraging her to pursue her artistic talents and explore her sexuality.

Seth convinces himself that his techniques, including his handy way with an electrotherapy wand, are all in the name of science. But even he is unprepared for the new Lucy who emerges–a passionate, calculating, amoral creature of large appetites. Chance’s straightforward prose and over-the-top plotting effectively combine in this diabolically clever, thoroughly entertaining take on women’s liberation.

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Book Review: You (You #1) by Caroline Kepnes

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When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

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