GPL Blog

Book Review | The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen

From the publisher: Corbin College, not-quite-upstate New York, winter 1959-1960: Ruben Blum, a Jewish historian – but not an historian of the Jews – is coopted onto a hiring committee to review the application of an exiled Israeli scholar specializing in the Spanish Inquisition. When Benzion Netanyahu shows up for an interview, family unexpectedly in tow, Blum plays the reluctant host, to guests who proceed to lay waste to his American complacencies. Mixing fiction with non-fiction, the campus novel with the lecture, The Netanyahus is a wildly inventive, genre-bending comedy of blending, identity, and politics.

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Book Review | A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari

From the publisher: London, 1923. Saffron Everleigh is in a race against time to free her wrongly accused professor before he goes behind bars forever.

If you love historical fiction with a touch of mystery and romance, A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poison might just be a book for you. Main character Saffron is an intelligent and talented woman constrained by the limits on women in the 1920s. Alexander Ashton, her companion in investigating a mysterious poisoning at a party, is a scarred and handsome veteran of the Great War coping with PTSD.

I’m no expert on England in the 1920s, but nothing in the narrative struck me as outlandishly out of touch with the times. An author’s note discusses the research the author did in her attempt to be historically accurate…

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Book Review | Don’t Cry For Me by Daniel Black

From the publisher: A Black father makes amends with his gay son through letters written on his deathbed in this wise and penetrating novel of empathy and forgiveness, for fans of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Robert Jones Jr. and Alice Walker.

Don’t Cry for Me is a sad, slow story told in a series of letters written by a man who is dying to his son. The history covered in the letters is very believable. The father insists that his son understand the family’s past, and visit the family land. He acknowledges how slavery has damaged them, and how Black people have learned to despise themselves instead of those who enslaved them. He tries to explain how expectations were different for straight adult men in the past, how he loved his son’s mother but why he was not a good father or…

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Book Review | Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

From the publisher: After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother. But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodermus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880’s America. What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears – as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her. But she won’t be in it alone. Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, Read more »

Book Review | Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

From the publisher: At once provocative, terrifying, and darkly subversive, Dread Nation is Justina Ireland’s stunning vision of an America both foreign and familiar—a country on the brink, at the explosive crossroads where race, humanity, and survival meet.

Dread Nation is a book I’ve been meaning to read for several years. Alternate history Civil War with zombies? Sounds awesome!

The Civil War was interrupted when the dead rose during the Battle of Gettysburg and hungrily attacked both armies. The Union and Confederacy soon realized they had to stop fighting each other and team up to defeat the shamblers, as they’re called in this book. The…

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Book Review | The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews

From the publisher: Victorian high society’s most daring equestrienne finds love and an unexpected ally in her fight for independence in the strong arms of London’s most sought after and devastatingly handsome half-Indian tailor.

I’m a big fan of Mimi Matthews, who began her fiction career by self-publishing romance novels set during the Victorian and Regency periods. She has now caught the attention of traditional publishing, and The Siren of Sussex is her first book with Berkley. Matthews is also a historian, and her books are ruthlessly researched. She may stretch a likely outcome, but her characters follow the behavioral standards of the day.

I have read all of the author’s works, and The Siren of Sussex was a little slow starting for me…

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Book Review | The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

From the publisher: Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca in this debut supernatural suspense novel, set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, about a remote house, a sinister haunting, and the woman pulled into their clutches…

Disclaimer: I haven’t read Rebecca or Mexican Gothic (but I’ve got the ARC!). Regardless, I enjoyed this book immensely and immediately gave it five stars. I also knew next to nothing about the Mexican War of Independence before starting and was able to follow along without any issue.

After her father’s execution during the overthrow of the government, Beatriz is desperate to find a home again for herself and her mother. She eagerly accepts the proposal of the…

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Book Review | A Reckless Match by Kate Bateman

From the publisher: Can lifelong hate turn to true love? Meet the Davies and Montgomery families – two households locked in an ancient feud, destined to be on opposing sides forever. Until now…

A Reckless Match is the first in new historical romance series set during the Regency period, about feuding families and childhood enemies who grow up to be lovers. A good enemies to lovers story is often a lot of fun, and clearly the author thinks so.

Maddie and Gryff have known each other since childhood, so there is no “meet cute,” but there is a cute intro all the same. Every year on the spring equinox, a member of the Montgomery family and a member of the Davies family must meet on a bridge dividing…

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Book Review | Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

From the publisher: An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . .

Silvia Moreno-Garcia has written quite a few novels, but this is the first of hers that I’ve read. I’m glad I read it, and it was a quick read, but it wasn’t blow-your-mind-amazing. It was predictable, pulling from many of the gothic foremothers and forefathers, but that set this up to be a softer texture of spooky. I wish I would have saved it for a cool fall evening, so if you’re reading this and I end up convincing you to read Mexican Gothic, please do yourself a favor and wait until it’s at least below 65 degrees and you have hot cocoa and flannels handy…

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Book Review | The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich

From the Publisher: Omakayas and her family live on the land her people call the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker. Although the “chimookoman,” white people, encroach more and more on their land, life continues much as it always has: every summer they build a new birchbark house; every fall they go to ricing camp to harvest and feast; they move to the cedar log house before the first snows arrive, and celebrate the end of the long, cold winters at maple-sugaring camp.

This is a highly recommended read for any Little House on the Prairie fans (along with Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park), as well as other readers interested in the mid 1800s and pioneering time period and aspects of American history. Louise Erdrich, an enrolled…

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