A Pirate for Christmas by Anna Campbell

A Pirate for Christmas by Anna Campbell

Publisher/Year: Anna Campbell, 2015

Format: E-book (Kindle)

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐



There’s a pirate in the manor house!

What is vicar’s daughter Bess Farrar to do when the dashing new earl, the man gossip paints as a ruthless pirate, kisses her the day they meet? Why, kiss him right back, of course! Now Lord Channing vows to claim the lovely firebrand, despite interfering villagers, a snowstorm, scandal, and a rascally donkey. The gallant naval captain’s first landlocked Christmas promises mayhem–and a lifetime of breathtaking passion.

Pursued by the pirate…

Bess Farrar might be an innocent village miss, but she knows enough about the world to doubt Lord Channing’s motives when he kisses her the very day they meet. After all, local gossip insists that before this dashing rake became an earl, he sailed the Seven Seas as a ruthless pirate.

Bewitched by the vicar’s daughter…

Until he unexpectedly inherits a title, staunchly honorable Scotsman Rory Beaton has devoted his adventurous life to the Royal Navy. But he sets his course for tempestuous new waters when he meets lovely, sparkling Bess Farrar. Now this daring mariner will do whatever it takes to convince the spirited lassie to launch herself into his arms and set sail into the sunset.

A Christmas marked by mayhem.

Wooing his vivacious lady, the new Earl of Channing finds himself embroiled with matchmaking villagers, an eccentric vicar, mistaken identities, a snowstorm, scandal, and a rascally donkey. Life at sea was never this exciting. The gallant naval captain’s first landlocked Christmas promises hijinks, danger, and passion–and a breathtaking chance to win the love of a lifetime.

What I thought

I know, I know…reading a Christmas story during Easter time…who am I? I don’t care, I will read Christmas stories throughout the year. And I really enjoyed this one! It wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read or anything, but I enjoyed this quick read enough that I’ll probably add it to my Christmas reading list. I was actually impressed by what Anna Campbell did with this story in the space of this little novella. The writing flowed well, and the two main characters were pretty well developed for a novella. For the most part, this was just a sweet, romantic story with a little bit of steam. I loved the banter between the two MC’s and the “will they? won’t they?” aspect, and although there wasn’t a lot of conflict, sometimes I just want a sweet, mushy story to make me feel happy. And I would really love to see these two featured in a full-length story, not gonna lie. All in all, I was genuinely and pleasantly impressed with this little novella, and it’s a perfect little read if you’re looking for a cute Christmas-y romance.

She Be Damned (Heloise Chancey Mysteries #1) by M. J. Tjia

She Be Damned (Heloise Chancey Mysteries #1) by M. J. Tjia
Publisher/Year: Legend Press, Ltd., 2017
Format: E-book (Hoopla)
Pages: 223
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


London, 1863: prostitutes in the Waterloo area are turning up dead, their sexual organs mutilated and removed. When another girl goes missing, fears grow that the killer may have claimed their latest victim.

The police are at a loss and so it falls to courtesan and professional detective, Heloise Chancey, to investigate.

With the assistance of her trusty Chinese maid, Amah Li Leen, Heloise inches closer to the truth. But when Amah is implicated in the brutal plot, Heloise must reconsider who she can trust, before the killer strikes again.

What I thought

I loved this book, everything about it. I’m actually feeling sad to have finished it, but then I remember it’s part of a series–yay! I simply haven’t had enough of Heloise Chancey.

So where to begin? Let’s talk setting first. M. J. Tjia absolutely brought Victorian London to life, seedy parts and all. Between the description of her surroundings and the variety of true-to-life characters we meet, I loved the feeling of authenticity and of being transported somewhere while I read.

As for the crime-solving, murder mystery aspect–folks, this story was gruesome. In lieu of listing every trigger warning in the books, let me simply advise you to tread lightly here. There were parts that were extremely difficult for even me to read, and that’s saying something. As for the mystery, although the reveal did feel slightly abrupt, it was no less horrifying. And kudos to the author–I never saw it coming.

My favorite part of this book, hands down, was Heloise. She was strong, independent, and witty. She was confident, almost to the point of being arrogant, and she embraced (and was proud of) her sexuality and her femininity. And of course I loved her feminist attitude. I couldn’t help but rage with her over the plight of sex workers, and women in general, of the time. For as gruesome and disheartening as this story could be, I couldn’t help but admire Heloise because she was also funny and raunchy and sexy and lively and kind. She was the kind of character who felt like a friend.

Despite all of my rambling, suffice it to say–I loved this book and truly can’t wait to read the next one. This book was so much more than the run-of-the-mill cozy mystery I was expecting. As I mentioned, this book won’t be for everyone–you can feel free to message me with any questions. But if you’re comfortable, I wholeheartedly think you should give it a try. I promise: you haven’t met a character before quite like Heloise!

A Change of Fortune (Ladies of Distinction #1) by Jen Turano

A Change of Fortune (Ladies of Distinction #1) by Jen Turano
Publisher/Year: Bethany House Publishers, 2012
Format: E-book (Nook)
Pages: 239
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Lady Eliza Sumner is on a mission. After losing her family, her fiance, and her faith, the disappearance of her fortune is the last straw. Now, masquerading as Miss Eliza Sumner, governess-at-large, she’s determined to find the man who ran off with her fortune, reclaim the money, and head straight back to London.

Much to Mr. Hamilton Beckett’s chagrin, all the eyes of New York society–all the female ones, at least–are on him. Unfortunately for all the matchmaking mothers and eligible daughters, he has no plans to marry again, especially with his hands full keeping his business afloat and raising his two children alone.

When Eliza’s hapless attempts to regain her fortune put her right in Hamilton’s path, sparks instantly begin to fly. The discovery of a common nemesis causes them to join forces, but with all their plans falling by the wayside and their enemies getting the better of them, it will take a riot of complications for Hamilton and Eliza to realize that God just might have had a better plan in mind all along.

What I thought

For being a freebie, this read wasn’t too bad! This was my first read by Jen Turano, and while I didn’t love it, I enjoyed it well enough to read more of her books, especially if I was in the mood for something light-hearted. Light-hearted is the perfect way to describe this one. I figured out pretty quickly that while this is billed as an inspirational historical romance, it’s more of a romantic comedy that takes place in a historic setting, with just a dash of religion. The story basically follows these characters from shenanigan to shenanigan, making it a light and easy read. The writing style was humorous, and the mentions of religion were sweet and subtle and not too preachy. I liked how much of a spitfire Eliza was, but I did feel kind of lukewarm towards Hamilton. All in all, this wasn’t anything earth-shattering, but it was a good read for winding down at the end of the day with a cuppa.

A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe

A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe
Publisher/Year: St. Martin’s Press, 2020
Format: ARC – paperback
Pages: 370
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Sun-drenched days and champagne-soaked nights of secrets, betrayal, and passion will transport you, leaving you intoxicated and longing for more.

1933 Indochine is a lush and dangerous land filled with men and women looking to make their fortunes and leave their secrets behind. Into the expatriate community steps Jessie Lesage, the American wife of a Michelin rubber heir, ready to abandon her past and revel in newfound prosperity. She quickly befriends vivacious Marcelle de Fabry and her lover, silk tycoon Khoi Nguyen–but discovers that Marcelle might have her own hidden desires that could mean deadly trouble for their tight-knit circle. As political intrigue builds and Marcelle plays both sides of the line between friend and foe, Jessie begins to wonder if her world of gold is nothing more than a house of cards.

What I thought

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review!

This book was such a breath of fresh air for me. You ever have those books where you know that it was exactly the right moment for you to read them? That was this book for me. This story was so different and lush, and it was just not what I was expecting. I love it when that happens–it’s so refreshing. A Hundred Suns transported me to a time and place that I had never read about before, and I think that historical fiction fans will really love this one. Other than the atmospheric prose, I really enjoyed Jessie and Marcelle as characters and became completely invested in their stories. And then on top of that, the deeper look at things like colonialism and communism in French Indochine gave me so much food for thought. Simply put, I got lost in the pages of this book, and during a year like 2020, what more could you ask for? If you’re a fan of historical fiction or if you’re looking for the next selection for your book club or even if you’re just looking for something totally unique, I’d highly recommend this one!

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman
Publisher/Year: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2020
Format: ARC – paperback
Pages: 351
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Living through WWII with her young daughter Vivi, working in a Paris bookstore, and fighting for her life, Charlotte is no victim, she is a survivor. But can she survive the next chapter of her life?

Alternating between wartime Paris and 1950s New York publishing, Paris Never Leaves You is an extraordinary story of resilience, love, and impossible choices, exploring how survival never comes without a cost.

The war is over, but the past is never past.

What I thought

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

This book took me completely by surprise. In a genre that many would argue is “overdone,” this WWII historical fiction offered a fresh, unique perspective that managed to be one of the most heart-wrenching, thought-provoking books that I’ve read thus far this year. This was a quick read, and even though the prose was spare, I found myself absolutely immersed by the story and its characters. I’m being intentionally vague here to avoid spoilers, but my point here is that this is an incredibly moving story that is going to stick with me for some time. Beautifully told, it examines the human condition and our need for connection and asks the question: “What would you do in order to survive?” I’d highly recommend this one for historical fiction fans and book club members–this novel begs to be discussed! As for me, I’m looking forward to reading more from Ellen Feldman!

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora
Publisher/Year: Random House, 2020
Format: Hardcover (B&N Bookclub Edition)
Pages: 410
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


A mother and daughter with a shared talent for healing–and conjuring curses–are at the heart of this dazzling first novel.

Conjure Women is a sweeping story that brings the world of the South before and after the Civil War vividly to life. Spanning generations, it explores the lives of three unforgettable women: Miss May Belle, a wise healer; her precocious and observant daughter Rue, who is reluctant to follow in her mother’s footsepts as a midwife; and their master’s daughter Varina. The secrets and bonds among these women come to a head at the birth of an accursed child, who sets the townspeople alight with fear, spreading superstition that threatens their newly won, tenuous freedom.

Richly imagined, brilliantly researched, magnificently written, Conjure Women moves back and forth in time to tell the haunting story of Rue, Varina, and May Belle, their passions and friendships, and how far they will go to save themselves and those they love.

What I thought

This novel was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020, so I was so excited when Barnes & Noble picked it as a book club selection. And I was not disappointed! As a debut novel, Conjure Women blew me away with its brilliance, and I have to admit, I am bummed to not have been able to meet and discuss this with my usual crew. There were so many layers to this story and so much to take away from it that this is one of those books where I feel like it’s almost necessary to read it again and again to truly grasp it all. And I absolutely could do that. Afia Atakora’s writing was so stunning and atmospheric that I was transported as I read. This was my ideal historical fiction read.

I could go on and dive into all the layers of this book, but I feel like I’d just end up rambling about how much I loved this book. I just cannot get over the fact that Conjure Women is a debut novel. If her first novel was any indication, I am immensely looking forward to whatever Afia Atakora writes next. Fans of historical fiction–get your hands on this one!

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
Publisher/Year: St. Martin’s Press, 2016
Format: E-book
Pages: 344
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


“‘They think I am still a little girl who is not capable of being a Queen.’ Lord Melbourne turned to look at Victoria. ‘They are mistaken. I have not known you long, but I observe in you a natural dignity that cannot be learnt. To me, ma’am, you are every inch a Queen.'”

In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria–sheltered, small in stature, and female became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina–Drina to her family–had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband.

Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and screenwriter of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.

What I thought

Ahh, there’s simply nothing like a good historical fiction. It’s like a balm to my weary soul. And I really liked this one! I consider myself an Anglophile, but I will admit, I’ve never read anything about Queen Victoria before. Historical fiction is my preferred jumping off point before I pull out the big biography guns, and this book perfectly fit the bill.

I loved how Queen Victoria was portrayed here, and now I’m certainly starting to see why she has so many fans. The way Daisy Goodwin wrote her character makes her seem so genuine and personable–and such a spitfire! I also really enjoyed how the secondary characters came to life and didn’t fall in the shadow of the Queen. I think my favorite part of this book, besides Queen Victoria herself, would have to be all the feelings for Lord Melbourne and Albert. Even while knowing how it would turn out, my heart still broke for Lord M even as much as it swooned for Albert.

I really enjoyed Daisy Goodwin’s writing, and I’m looking forward to her other books. I’m especially excited to dive into the PBS show! I think the only thing that kept this from being a 5-star read for me is that while I enjoyed my visit to Victorian England, I didn’t feel quite transported there.

All in all, between a wonderful story, an inspiring heroine, and beautiful writing, this is must-read historical fiction–and one I must add to my shelves!

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins
Publisher/Year: Abingdon Press, 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 216
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Can the broken heart of a child be healed by an unexpected Christmas letter?

Robert Reed gave his life for his country in the early days of World War II. His sacrifice was honored when his widow and son were presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Every Christmas, the final decoration Marge Reed hangs on the family’s tree is that medal. Rather than being a symbol of honor for young Jimmy Reed, that shining star represents loss, pain, and suffering.

However, a message delivered by one of Robert’s fellow soldiers and a mystery letter found in a Bible put a father’s sacrifice and faith into perspective and bring new meaning to not just the star hanging on the Christmas tree but the events of the very first Christmas. Then, when least expected, a Christmas miracle turns a final bit of holiday sadness into a joy that the boy has never known.

What I thought

Something you need to know about me (which will explain A LOT): I LOVE Christmas. It is my absolute favorite holiday–so much so that I’m one of those weirdos who can listen to Christmas songs or watch Christmas movies or read Christmas books at any time throughout the year.

So right now, when I need literally anything that will bring me happiness, when I saw this come up on my list, I welcomed it with open arms. And turns out, its sentimentality was just what I needed. Reminiscent of It’s A Wonderful Life and with a bit (but not too much) of a Christian focus, I found this to be a sweet and simple tale of a WWII Christmas that will remind you of what this season is all about. Aside from its message about the importance of hope and faith, it wasn’t a very deep book, but I was okay with that. And the Christian message was simplistic without being preachy. My favorite character was Calvin, hands down. I will say that I found the ending 100% unnecessary, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a complete sucker for a cheesy Christmas miracle.

A super sweet, nostalgic Christmas tale was just the thing to make me feel better, and I really enjoyed this one! It has definitely earned a place on my shelves to be enjoyed during Christmases yet to come.

A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland

A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland
Publisher/Year: Headline Publishing Group, 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 531
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


1316. On the wilds of Dartmoor stands the isolated Priory of St. Mary, home to the Sisters of the Knights of St. John. People journey from afar in search of healing at the holy well that lies beneath its chapel.

But the locals believe Dartmoor was theirs long before Christianity came to the land. And not all who visit seek miracles. When three strangers reach the moor, fear begins to stir as the well’s waters run with blood.

What witchcraft have the young woman, the Knight of St. John and the blind child brought with them?

The Sisters will need to fight for everything they hold dear as the ghosts of the Old World gather in their midst.

What I thought

There are few things I love more than adding to my “will read anything they write” author list. I read Karen Maitland’s The Owl Killers a couple years ago and loved it, so I was very excited when my library was able to track down a copy of this for me.

Two of my favorite genres are historical fiction and fantasy, so I am absolutely here for Maitland’s impeccable historical fiction with a touch of the supernatural. This story was more of a slow burn for me, but I truly didn’t mind that because I so enjoyed feeling completely immersed in the time period. I can tell how much research Maitland does–both from the extensive historical notes/glossary in the back and from how much the time and place came to life. And as someone who lives in central PA, who has never been to England let alone Dartmoor, and who does not know much about the time period, through Maitland’s efforts, I was able to easily follow along and learn as I read. Not only that, but she has a talent for creating atmosphere–the eerie, damp, chilly moors were a character unto themselves.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot, but I will say that of particular interest to me was the dichotomy of pagan beliefs and the influx of Christianity, among the other power struggles at play. As I mentioned, this story was a bit more of a slow burn than I was expecting, but again, I just really enjoyed learning about a time period I knew nothing about. The story is as dark and melancholy as the moors on which they take place, but I couldn’t help but keep turning the pages to see how the characters turned out. Maitland again employs a multiple perspective storyline, but it flows seamlessly and I love that structure.

All in all, Karen Maitland is a truly excellent addition to the historical fiction realm. If you are a fan of the likes of Bernard Cornwell or Philippa Gregory, I urge you to read this or any of her other books. Bringing the Dark Ages to life in a way that makes me glad for modern day conveniences, I really enjoyed falling into this story and becoming captivated by the characters as they struggled their way through life in the Dark Ages in Dartmoor.

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey
Publisher/Year: Thomas Dunne Books, 2019
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 471
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


An unforgettable historical novel about true love found and lost and the secrets we keep from one another

Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing. Her life is a whirl of parties and drinking, pursued by the press and staying on just the right side of scandal, while running from the life her parents have planned for her.

Lawrence Weston is a penniless painter who is drawn into Selina’s orbit one fateful night, beginning a chain of events that will have a profound effect on them both. But talent and ambition are not enough to earn Lawrence a place in Selina’s gilded world, and there are consequences for girls like her who break the rules. When tragedy strikes, Selina finds herself choosing what her head tells her is safe over what her heart knows is right.

Spanning two decades and a seismic shift in British history as World War II approaches, Iona Grey’s The Glittering Hour is an epic novel of passion, heartache, and loss.

What I thought

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Thomas Dunne Books for the free finished copy of this book in exchange for an honest review to be featured as part of the blog tour.

Let me begin this review by simply stating that this book made me cry. More than once. I finished it this morning around 5:30 AM, sitting in my bed before work, with silent tears rolling down my face. Maybe to some this doesn’t sound like much, but for me, that means this book was a big deal. I’m a weeper–I weep at the merest commercial, but I very rarely shed tears over a book. So for me to cry in response to this story, that should tell you that this is, indeed, a special book.

Make no bones about it, The Glittering Hour is a slow-burn of a heartbreaking novel about love–love found, love lost, and the definition of what it truly means to love. This rich, evocative story reminded me of The Notebook and, at times, The Time Traveler’s Wife, although The Glittering Hour is strictly historical fiction. Iona Grey’s simple yet lush writing style transported me to the England of the mid-1920s and the mid-1930s, squarely between two World Wars. London came to dazzling life, and so did the struggling, foreboding Blackwood Park.

What made this book so touching and moving to me, though, was the characters. I became attached to bright, feisty Selina and brooding but passionate Lawrence. And even though I guessed how their story would end fairly early on, I still hoped with my heart of hearts for another outcome because their love was so romantic and intense and sweet and believable and true. I will take a step back, however, and say that while certain aspects of this story were predictable, there were enough that weren’t to keep the story moving. Back to the characters. I loved dear, sweet Alice and my heart absolutely ached for her. I was also very fond of Polly and Mr. Patterson. My only complaint with this book, and what kept it from five-star status, was that I wished the rest of the characters had been a little more fleshed out and a little less black and white.

With that being said, I think fans of historical fiction will definitely want to add The Glittering Hour to their winter TBR. This would be the perfect read for a long winter day spent cozied up by the fire. The Glittering Hour releases Tuesday, December 10, 2019 and has been picked as a BOTM December 2019 selection. You’ll want to make sure that you don’t miss out on this one!

About the author

IONA GREY is the author of the award winning Letters to the Lost. She has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in rural Cheshire with her husband and three daughters.

Whites Houses by Amy Bloom

White Houses by Amy Bloom
Publisher/Year: Random House, 2018
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 218
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


“I never envied a wife or a husband, until I met Eleanor. Then, I would have traded everything I ever had, every limo ride, every skinny-dip, every byline and carefree stroll, for what Franklin had, polio and all.”

A beautiful, unexpected, and forbidden affair unfolds against a turning point in American history in this moving and romantic novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Away, Lucky Us, and Where the God of Love Hangs Out.

Lorena Hickok meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt’s first presidential campaign. Having grown up worse than poor in South Dakota and reinvented herself as the most prominent woman reporter in America, “Hick,” as she’s known to her friends and admirers, is not quite instantly charmed by the idealistic, patrician Eleanor. But then, as her connections with the future first lady deepens into intimacy, what begins as a powerful passion matures into a life and a lasting love Hick never expected to have. She moves into the White House, where her status as “first friend” is an open secret, as are FDR’s own lovers. After she takes a job in the Roosevelt administration, promoting and protecting both Roosevelts, she comes to know Franklin not only as a great president but as a complicated rival and an irresistible friend, capable of changing lives even after his death. Through it all, even as Hick’s bond with Eleanor is tested by forces both extraordinary and common, and as she grows as a woman and a writer, she never loses sight of the love of her life.

From Washington, D.C., to Hyde Park, from a little white house on Long Island to an apartment on Manhattan’s Washington Square, Amy Bloom’s new novel moves elegantly through fascinating places and times, written in compelling prose and with emotional depth, wit, and acuity.

“Amy Bloom knows the urgency of love,” wrote The Washington Post about Bloom’s acclaimed bestseller Away. The same could be said of White Houses, an unforgettable novel about the power of passion and the endurance of love.

What I thought

White Houses is a book that has been extremely difficult for me to rate. At times, I loved reading this story, but at others, I struggled with it.

As a historical fiction fan, I loved reading Amy Bloom’s take on the relationship between Eleanor and Lorena. I love the feeling when the wheels start turning, and I can’t help but wonder how much truth is behind the fiction. Their love story, at least as it’s told here, is the definition of bittersweet. Amy Bloom truly brings to life how beautiful and tragic their relationship is. There were a number of times when I just wanted to cry and cry for them, especially at the end.

On another historical note, as someone who has always deeply admired Eleanor Roosevelt, I was impressed with how Bloom portrayed her. Her character and her voice felt true to life, which is not always easy to do with historical figures.

I think where I struggled with this one was not Lorena herself (I just loved her), but her voice. Her narration can be jarring at times, which made it difficult to sink into. At the same time, however, I wouldn’t say this as a knock against Bloom’s writing. Her writing is impeccable–I have written down quote after quote of lines and passages I adored. Rather, it’s just that Lorena’s story seems to jump around a bit, and there’s almost an assumption that the reader knows all of the minor historical figures. Again, I did really enjoy Lorena as a character and Bloom’s writing. It was just difficult for me to really sink into this story, if that makes sense.

If you enjoy historical fiction, or if you are in the mood for an ultimately tragic love story, I definitely recommend White Houses. Although not always an easy read, in more ways than one, it nonetheless provides a fascinating take on Eleanor and Lorena’s relationship, as well as an intriguing look into those times.

Inland by Téa Obreht

Inland by Téa Obreht
Publisher/Year: Random House, 2019
Format: Hardcover, B&N Edition
Pages: 390
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


The New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger‘s Wife returns with a stunning tale of perseverance–an epic journey across an unforgettable landscape of magic and myth.

In the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893, two extraordinary lives collide. Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman awaiting the return of the men in her life–her husband, who has gone in search of water for the parched household, and her elder sons, who have vanished after an explosive argument. Nora is biding her time with her youngest son, who is convinced that a mysterious beast is stalking the land around their home.

Lurie is a former outlaw and a man haunted by ghosts. He sees lost souls who want something from him, and he finds reprieve from their longing in an unexpected relationship that inspires a momentous expedition across the West. The way in which Nora’s and Lurie’s stories intertwine is the surprise and suspense of this brilliant novel.

Mythical, lyrical, and sweeping in scope, Inland is grounded in true but little-known history. It showcases all of Téa Obreht’s talents as a writer, as she subverts and reimagines the myths of the American West, making them entirely–and unforgettably–her own.

What I thought

Unlike many readers, I have not read Téa Obreht’s debut novel, The Tiger’s Wife. After having finished this, her sophomore novel, however, I am eagerly looking forward to diving into that one.

Inland was a struggle for me, I won’t lie. I’m already a slow reader to begin with, but I inched along at a snail’s pace with this book. I don’t know that I’d say that’s a bad thing, though. Admittedly, it took me a while to get into her writing style, particularly due to the fact that Lurie’s and Nora’s storylines were written so stylistically different. But as I settled into this story, I became utterly entranced. It was still slow-going, don’t get me wrong, but Obreht has such a beautiful, lyrical way of writing that certain passages took my breath away and all but begged to be re-read and pored over.

I also couldn’t help but fall in love with Lurie and Nora. Call them “unlikeable” all you want, but I found Lurie oftentimes hilarious and Nora was so relatable that she became almost dear to me. Both of them, but especially Nora, were the types of characters that will travel with me, even though I ended this book days ago. I knew, at some point, that their stories would connect, which, besides the gorgeous writing and the character themselves, was what kept driving me to turn the pages. And when they did, my goodness, let me tell you–that ending was stunning. I think I held my breath for the final three pages.

Inland is very much a love-it-or-hate-it book (as evidenced during my local B&N book club meeting last night). For some, the magical realism and the open (or is it?) ending work. For others, they don’t. I’m not often a fan of endings that lack definitive answers. Here? I loved it. I feel like I could go on and on and ruminate about this book forever. My thoughts are still constantly churning about this one. (Have I talked about memory as a driving force for Lurie and Nora? No? I’ll shut up now. But seriously, if you’ve read this, message me.)

All I’m trying to say is that this is literature, at its finest. Books such as this one are why I love to read–I want to think and I want to discuss my thoughts. Reading doesn’t always look like this for me, but when it does, I know that that book is special. Inland is one of the special ones. All I can say (read: highly recommend) is to try it.