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review 2019-10-14 15:29
The First Lady and The Rebel
The First Lady and the Rebel - Susan Higginbotham

Mary Todd Lincoln and Emily Todd Helm are two strong willed sisters who happened to marry two men of equal conviction.  Abraham Lincoln is elected to the presidency just as his nation begins to split.  Mary is in support of his views for the nation, but finds that many of her family members are not.  Emily encourages her husband, Benjamin to travel to Washington upon Lincoln's election and ask for a post within the government.  Ben finds that he respects Lincoln deeply, but does not share his views and returns to his family.  As war breaks out, Ben takes a post in the Confederate Army as Mary hopes for a speedy end to the conflict.  While the North and South are divided the sisters can't directly communicate and feel the loss of the other in their lives as each woman champions for their own victory.  

 
With astounding historical accuracy, the plight of the Todd family during the Civil War is brought to life.  I always love when history is told from the woman's point of view and Emily and Mary have equally interesting stories.  The point of view switches between Mary and Emily and begins with their courtships.  I did find it harder to get into the story this early, but it did give some insight into their relationship.  The pacing and interest picked up as the war began and the women were feeling the effects of having family on each side.  While there was a lot of insight in the writing as to the impacts of the war and some of the decisions that Lincoln and Helm made, I really wanted to feel the emotional connection to each of the women and their direct impacts on the War through their husbands, I felt more of just a description of what happened around them.  Overall, the strength of Mary and Emily shines through as well as their dedication to family in all forms.
 
This book was received in return for an honest review.
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review 2019-10-11 15:19
A Lady's Guide To Etiquette And Murder - Dianne Freeman

American-born Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh is finally done with mourning the man who was found dead in another woman's bed. She needs to get away from the new heir to the title and with her own funds she leaves for London. An anonymous letter implicating her in the murder of her husband leads her down a track of investigating the truth. Add in her sister and a dashing new neighbour, who knows the truth too and you have a fun read.

I really enjoyed this one and I'm looking forward to reading more. Frances is well aware of the problems of society and keeping herself well regarded while also knowing that she wants some freedom. It's an interesting look at a turn of the 19th Century world of privilege.

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review 2019-10-11 14:50
The Lady in the Cellar - Sinclair McKay

This reads like a murder mystery, but unlike a murder mystery this one isn't solved at the end. There's a body under coals, badly decomposed. The house belongs to a family who take in boarders and this appears to be a boarder who has left. It has all the elements of a good mystery. Eccentric people, immigrants trying to make good, a maid that may or may not be the lover of several of the characters and was accused herself but she turned it around on almost everyone else and added some gothic spice to the mix. Fueled by popular newspapers this was a mess of a case from the start and it's still not clear who dunnit.

Interesting read.

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text 2019-10-03 15:25
Halloween Bingo 2019: Fourth Extra Square
The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective - Catherine Louisa Pirkis

 

I haven't finished Sara Collins's The Confessions of Frannie Langton yet, but this came in the mail just recently, and I've been curious about it ever since I listened to the full cast adaptation of one of these stories as part of the BBC's The Lady Detectives compilation, which was my audiobook for the "Read by Flashlight or Candle Light" square.  And so far, it's a pleasure to meet Miss Loveday Brooke ... (whose appearance is actually the polar opposite to what is suggested on the book cover).  Tigus, I think you might enjoy this one!

 

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review 2019-09-26 23:59
She Died a Lady
She Died a Lady: A Sir Henry Merrivale Mystery - John Dickson Carr

This book had such a promising start but once the main plot event happened and the police investigation gets under way, the story becomes ridiculously convoluted and stops making sense. 

It was almost as if Carr had a really novel idea and then suddenly balked at executing it. Instead of a well-thought-out plot with a sound motive and fleshed out characters, we get caricatures and snippets of plot that seem to be formulaic. The only characters that I felt were truly well crafted were the two victims. 

 

The ending was a let-down, too, I felt. There are certain similarities in the structure of this book with one Dame Agatha's and even tho I suspected the Carr had not copied the entire idea, it gave me enough pause to suspect the culprit reasonably enough. 

There was no way I could figure out the motive, tho. There was just way too much going on in this plot to figure out any logical conclusions, and to be honest, the conclusion that was presented seemed to have been magically drawn out of a hat.

 

It just did not work for me. However, I look forward to trying some of Carr's other titles. 

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