“Two Rivers” is a slice-of-life antebellum story like no other. It offers an intimate look at the life of the enslaved on a rice plantation outside of their forced labor duties. But even describing it as such doesn’t quite capture the weight of this book. While the narrative follows many characters, the 84-year-old Uncle Posey is front and center for much of the story, experiencing loss, love, and the struggles of life. The author doesn’t need to show the horrors these men and women faced while in the fields. Instead, Rogers shows us the more domestic side of the enslaved lives when they are swapping stories and meals, with Posey—originally—merely wanting to keep grave robbers from stealing his sister’s body, and finding love and peace again after being a widower for so long. With his sons gone—sold after a failed rebellion—Posey knows too well that there is no such thing as a “good” master. Even if he is treated with kindness, he knows that such kindness is meaningless. With characters like Posey in the situation they’re in, the reader is shown the brutal and uncomfortable relationship between the enslaved and the enslavers on a “friendly” plantation. For a historical fiction, this book gave me hints of “Stamped from the Beginning” with its window into the origins of racism, as well as “Kindred” with the story’s more intimate look at the lives of the enslaved when they aren’t being forced to labor for another’s gain.
If you’ve been missing “Bridgerton”, as in the Shonda Rhymes show, then this book is 100% for you. I haven’t read the Julia Quinn books, so I can’t say on that front how closely “Aphrodite and the Duke” line up there, but the parallels to the Netflix show are easy to see. You have a tightly knit family traversing the “ton” as one daughter begins her season, the balls are colorful and over the top, the queen feels taken straight from the show with her attitude and massive wigs, even the title of this book is closely tied to that of Quinn’s. Plus, you have our main character who is so attractive she’s intimidating and thus has a hard time getting suitors, though the one she does want has broken her heart before and, due to his family trauma, doesn’t really want a wife though he is obsessed with Aphrodite. I could go on, but trust me when I say that if you want a fluffy romance steeped in the regency vibes of Julia Quinn and Shonda Rhymes, give this historical fiction romance a try!
“The Fair” is book two (of 5) in the Time Box series and, yes, you do need to read them in order and no, they are not stand-alone stories. In this second book, the Lanes are hiding from the billionaire trying to kill them for stealing two of his time machines, theoretically stopping the him from going back in time and changing outcomes of wars in favor of the losing party. Except Robert Devereux COULD still do that, he has his own Time Box, which is what his assassin uses when chasing the Lanes, but it's about the principle of the thing now—you do not steal from the boss and get to live after. So, the Lanes decide to hide in 1893 in Chicago. Chicago, during that time, was the place to be with their World’s Fair (the Columbian Exposition) in full swing giving the Lanes a huge crowd to lose themselves in, and if you know your history as the Lanes’ seem to, you know that this was also the exact place and time where the serial killer H.H. Holmes was operating his Murder Hotel. Between the excitement of the fair, and the danger from the assassin and a notorious serial killer, this book should have been brimming with tension and excitement, but its focus was on more gentler aspects instead.
If you have spent any time looking at my reading history and book reviews, you know that I’m a big YA reader, and I also have a huge interest in reading thrillers and true crime (yeah it’s odd but whatever). So, of course, “Stalking Jack the Ripper” sounds like it should tick every single one of my boxes. Just ignore the fact that I was so late to start reading this. We have Audrey Rose, a young woman of wealth and society that leads a double life assisting her uncle in his morgue. She assists in autopsying the recent corpses that come to his lab, until a slew of horrific murders begins in the Whitechapel area, and the first victim of Jack the Ripper makes it to her uncle’s laboratory, with a startling connection to Audrey Rose’s family. It’s a race to discover who Jack is and put an end to these awful murders; and how could Audrey not win that race when the brilliant, Sherlock Holmes-like love interest is there to help? So, tell me then: why did I not like this book?
Just kidding, I’ll tell you.
Starting at the young age of fourteen and ending when she’s seventy-nine (when we first meet Evelyn), Evelyn Hugo has gone from bombshell, to sexpot, to Oscar winner, to civil rights supporter. Evelyn knew what she wanted from an early age—to get out of Hell’s Kitchen and away from her abusive father, and to be the biggest star anyone has ever heard of. And she accomplished that! Partially because of her talent, partially because she knows her worth and is unafraid to get dirty in order to achieve her goals, and partially because there is no one better at using the press and scandals to serve their own interests. Evelyn is both a force to be reckoned with, but also a deeply flawed and lonely. Shown through the perspective of Evelyn as she dictates her memoir to Monique, the reader is taken back to the early days of Hollywood to watch Evelyn’s rise, and her stumbles, to and through stardom. For a story about a Hollywood starlet, this book is LAYERED, and I don’t think I was expecting the level of depth it had, even though many reviews warned me to expect the unexpected with this story.
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