Jilliand by Clare Gutierrez

Jilliand

3 Stars

Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group, River Grove

Date publication: April 17th, 2018

Genre: Historical Fiction, General Fiction

Where you can find Jilliand: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

“Bruised, bloody, and barely dressed, she knew it was over. She had no doubt the Vikings would search for her if she tried to run—especially now, with their companion lying dead. It would be dark soon, and she had no idea where she could go or hide. Jilliand knew they would come for her. The Vikings were not likely to let this go—especially it being an attack by a woman. She was defeated. Weak and shaking, she stared at the man’s body. I think tonight I die. 

My review:

I haven’t read a lot of books that have taken place in the Viking Era. So, I was pretty excited to read Jilliand. I have a genuine interest in the Viking culture and was looking forward to reading about it. While the book did cover that, I felt it was lacking in some areas. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading the book. I loved that the author took her time to research the Viking culture. I also liked that she made Jilliand a strong female character. I also liked how Jilliand seemed to overcome the odds. But there were things I didn’t like about the book. I felt that Jilliand was a little too progressive for the time. Not a lot of women traveled alone during that time. Also, not a lot of women knew how to fight. I also felt that she was too easily accepted at the Viking village. Everything else I have read points to the exact opposite for slaves. I also didn’t believe that Jilliand’s brother didn’t know how she was living when she was a child? Please.

Jilliand’s storyline was interesting. Jilliand was an abused, young girl who was going to be married off to her father’s closest ally. But, on the eve of her arranged marriage, Jilliand is set free. Given clothing and a short dagger, she makes her way to a nearby village. It is there that she settles down with a family. Her freedom is short-lived. She is soon captured by the Vikings in a raid. Ruik, the sea-king of his village, falls in love with her. But language stands in the way, as does Jilliand’s attempts to escape. Eventually, she ends up at his village and they are married. But a huge tragedy happens and Jilliand is separated from Ruik, for years. Taken in by her brother, Jilliand is treated as a treasured, if eccentric sister. What happens next, though, will bring Jilliand back to Ruik. But will it be too late for them?

I liked Jilliand and I admired her for overcoming awful beginnings. But I couldn’t quite connect with her. She was progressive for that era. Females were only there to have children. They contributed little to society other than that. So for Jilliand to be taught how to fight struck me as a little odd. There was an explanation about why she was taught but still.  Saying that she was a very strong and positive female character. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around how she was portrayed.

I thought her relationship with Ruik a bit Stockholm Syndromeish. I know that captives can fall in love with their captors after being with them for a while. So, that part is believable. But to have the village accept her? I don’t think that would have happened. She came in as a slave and she would have been at the bottom of the totem pole. Instead, she was treated very well and accepted as Ruik’s wife almost from the beginning. I also felt that their relationship was flat. There was no sizzle to it. I didn’t get the warm fuzzies when they were together. It was blah.

The subplot with Jilliand’s brother didn’t sit well with me either. I could believe that a king wouldn’t go wage war on the man who kidnapped his mother and forced her to marry him. I also couldn’t believe that he left Jilliand with that man, knowing how he was. It didn’t sit right with me.

I will say that I liked the end of the book. Jilliand was magnificent. I loved the surprise at the end. I was expecting it and but it didn’t make the ending anymore happier for me.

What I liked about Jilliand:

A) Jilliand being a strong female character

B) The research that went into the book. It was unbelievable and I learned so much about the Viking culture

C) The ending.

What I disliked about Jilliand:

A) She was too progressive for the era

B) Her relationship with Ruik

C) The subplot with her brother

I would give Jilliand an Older Teen rating. There is sex but it is not explicit. There is violence. There is no language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

There are trigger warnings in Jilliand. They are child abuse, attempted rape, kidnapping, and slavery. If you are triggered by any of these, I recommend not reading Jilliand.

I am on the fence about rereading Jilliand. I am also on the fence about recommending this book to family and friends.

I would like to thank Greenlove Book Group, River Grove, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Jilliand.

All opinions stated in this review of Jilliand are mine.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall

The Subway Girls

4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: July 10th, 2018

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Where you can find The Subway Girls: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

In 1949, dutiful and ambitious Charlotte’s dream of a career in advertising is shattered when her father demands she help out with the family business. Meanwhile, Charlotte is swept into the glamorous world of the Miss Subways beauty contest, which promises irresistible opportunities with its Park Avenue luster and local fame status. But when her new friend—the intriguing and gorgeous fellow-participant Rose—does something unforgivable, Charlotte must make a heart-wrenching decision that will change the lives of those around her forever.

Nearly 70 years later, outspoken advertising executive Olivia is pitching the NYC subways account in a last ditch effort to save her job at an advertising agency. When the charismatic boss she’s secretly in love with pits her against her misogynistic nemesis, Olivia’s urgent search for the winning strategy leads her to the historic Miss Subways campaign. As the pitch date closes in on her, Olivia finds herself dealing with a broken heart, an unlikely new love interest, and an unexpected personal connection to Miss Subways that could save her job—and her future.

The Subway Girls is the charming story of two strong women, a generation apart, who find themselves up against the same eternal struggle to find an impossible balance between love, happiness, and ambition.

My Review:

I like reading women’s fiction and historical fiction, I have had issues finding books that can focus on both of those genres. They are few and far between. So when I read the blurb for The Subway Girls, I almost didn’t get this book. I almost passed it over. I am glad that I didn’t because I would have missed a fantastic book that takes place in 1949 and present day.

I liked how the storylines mirrored each other. I didn’t get confused when going between the time periods because they were doing (or trying to get into) the same field of work. Even the mindset of the men (past and present) were the same. The only time the storylines stopped mirroring each other was when Charlotte was in the Miss Subways contest and Olivia was working on finding a way to keep her job. Even then, it was only for a couple of chapters. Then it was right back to mirroring each other.

I thought Charlotte was progressive for her time. She was trying to get into a field that was dominated by men (think Don Draper). She was optimistic until she got the last rejection letter. I liked how she called the guy and told him to keep her in mind. She had no real interest in doing the beauty contest, she entered on a whim. She needed the money but thought that she would at least have a job if they got back to her. I loved her reaction to being asked to do something that she was uncomfortable with. I was chanting “You go girl” the entire time.

I liked Olivia but I felt that she wasn’t as developed as Charlotte’s character was at first. Then she gained depth. She was a strong person but she also had a certain vulnerability to her. I didn’t get her being in love with her boss. I felt that the book didn’t have to go that way. I also felt that her co-worker was a little too hostile to women. Considering what happened at the end of the book, I wasn’t surprised. But still. I liked how she made time for her elderly next door neighbor and her grandson.

Rose’s betrayal set the tone for the last half of the book. Not going to get into it but Charlotte did the absolute right thing when she did what she did.

I loved how the author brought the two storylines together. How I didn’t see what I didn’t see is beyond me. The author did a great job at keeping Ben’s grandmother’s identity a secret. There were a few red herrings thrown out. Same goes for Olivia’s Subway Girls revival. I was so mad when the events happened the way they did.

I should mention that the contest was based on a contest that was run in New York City. The author had an afterward where she described how she took that contest and made it her own.

The end of the book cleared up some details that I figured out but needed to see in print. I like that it ended happily but realistically.

What I liked about The Subway Girls:

A) That it was based on a real contest.

B) Well developed characters

C) Interesting plot with plot twists that I didn’t see coming.

What I disliked about The Subway Girls:

A) Olivia’s relationship with her boss.

B) Charlotte not being taken seriously in her career choice

C) Rose’s betrayal

I would give The Subway Girls an Older Teen rating. There are sexual situations but nothing graphic. There is language. There is mild violence.

There are no trigger warnings in The Subway Girls.

I would recommend The Subway Girls to family and friends. This is a book that I could see myself rereading.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Griffin, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Subway Girls.

All opinions stated in this review of The Subway Girls are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

A Dream of Redemption (The Disgraced Lords: Book 8) by Bronwen Evans

A Dream of Redemption (The Disgraced Lords, #8)

4 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, Loveswept

Date of publication: February 20th, 2018

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Series: The Disgraced Lords

A Kiss of Lies – Book 1

A Promise of More – Book 2

A Touch of Passion – Book 3

A Whisper of Desire – Book 4

A Taste of Seduction – Book 5

A Night of Forever – Book 6 (review here)

A Love to Remember – Book 7 (review here)

A Dream of Redemption – Book 8

Where you can find A Dream of Redemption: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

A forbidden love and a chilling mystery tease the senses in this sensuous historical romance from the USA Today bestselling author of A Kiss of Lies and A Love to Remember.

Bookish and independent Lady Helen Hawkestone is expected to marry well. But, having grown up with warring parents, the institution holds little appeal. The trick, she realizes, is to marry for love—a task that’s easier said than done. Only while Helen is raising funds for her do-gooder sister’s orphanage does she meet a man who arouses her curiosity. Lowborn and yet so dignified that Helen can’t help but try to elicit a response, Clary Homeward is an enigma—a heart-stopping, body-stirring, forget-her-social-upbringing enigma.

A single offense against a noblewoman such as Lady Helen would ruin a man like Clary. Her sister, Marisa, rescued him from hellish poverty and employs him with her charity work. Try as he might to push her away, Helen tempts him to want things he could never have. But when girls from the orphanage start disappearing, destined for a grim fate Clary knows all too well, Helen insists on helping. And soon Clary wonders whether something more were not just possible but inevitable—even right.

Trigger Warning: talk of past sexual abuse, child trafficking

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The English Wife: A Novel

The English Wife: A Novel

4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: January 9th, 2018

Genre: Historical Fiction, drama, mystery

Number of pages: 384

Where you can find The English Wife: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

From the New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous Gilded Age novel full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three-year-old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?

Trigger Warning: None

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Bound to a Spy (All the Queen’s Spies: Book 2) by Sharon Cullen

Bound to a Spy (All the Queen's Spies, #2)

4 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, Loveswept

Date of publication: October 24th, 2017

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Number of pages: 258

POV: 3rd person

Series: All the Queen’s Spies

Wed to a Spy – Book 1 (review here)

Bound to a Spy – Book 2

Lost to a Spy – Book 3 (expected publication date March 13th, 2018)

Where you can find Bound to a Spy: Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

A fierce Highland lass puts her life—and her heart—in the hands of a dashing British spy in this exhilarating romance from the USA Today bestselling author of Wed to a Spy.

Rose Turner’s mother sent her to the court of Mary, Queen of Scots, to give her a better life. Raised with rowdy brothers in a notorious border clan, Rose has plenty of experience fighting and thieving—and practically none when it comes to matters of decorum and discretion. Without a single ally, she has little hope of making a good marriage to salvage her family’s reputation. But after overhearing several influential lords plotting to murder the King of Scotland, Rose meets a man after all: a handsome spy trying to shield her from danger.
 
As one of the Queen Elizabeth’s top agents, Will Sheffield has come up north to keep a close eye on the goings-on at Mary’s court. A consummate professional, Will notices Rose’s presence at the secret meeting . . . and he’s not the only one. The wild, naïve beauty has made a fearsome enemy—and only Will can keep her safe. But after an attempt on Rose’s life pulls them tantalizingly close, Will faces an agonizing choice between professional loyalty or powerful passion.

Trigger Warning: None

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Catching a Witch by Heidi Eljarbo

Catching a Witch: A Novel of Loyalty, Deception, and Superstition

4 Stars

Publisher: TCK Publishing

Date of publication: August 1st, 2017

Genre: Paranormal, Historical Fiction

Number of pages: 284

POV: 3rd person

Where you can find Catching a Witch: Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

What Would You Do to Save Your Best Friend from Burning? 
The year 1660 is when it all changed… 

That’s when a witch-hunter comes to Clara Dahl’s seaside village in Norway. She’s horrified to discover how fast her neighbors and friends are to turn against each other. She soon realizes her sleepy, little, picturesque corner of the world has been invaded by evil—and it has nothing to do with witchcraft. 

As neighbor turns against neighbor, Clara finds herself drawn into the fray, forced to do what she can to protect her friends and loved ones. An educated and upstanding minister’s daughter, Clara speaks out against the witch-hunter’s unjust treatment of those accused of witchcraft. She sees how he plays the villagers, using their superstitions and religious beliefs to make good people accept horrible things. 

When Clara’s best friend Bess is accused of being a witch, Clara must make an incredible sacrifice to save not only her friend, but the entire town… before it’s too late. 

About the Book

In 1660, women had no voting rights, couldn’t own property, and were treated as second-class citizens. If that weren’t bad enough, many innocent women—especially poor women—were tried and executed for witchcraft. The people responsible for their deaths were often their own friends, family members, and neighbors. 

Catching a Witch is a story about a young woman who’s willing to do whatever it takes to protect the people she cares about most in this world. 

You’ll love this book if you enjoy… 

Historical dramas 
Witches and witch hunting 
Historical thrillers 
The history of religion and superstitions 
A story with a strong female protagonist fighting for what’s right 
Readers of similar books such as Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare will love Catching a Witch. 

Scroll up and click “buy now” to help Clara save her village from evil.

Trigger Warning: abuse of women, some graphic death scenes

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Berserker by Emmy Laybourne

Berserker (Berserker #1)

4 Stars

Publisher: Macmillian Children’s Publishing Group, Feiwel & Friends

Date of publication: October 10th 2017

Genre: YA, historical fiction

Number of pages: 352

POV: 3rd person

Where you can find Berserker: Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Are Hanne’s powers a gift from the old Norse gods, or a curse?

Her brother Stieg swears their powers are a gift from the old gods, but Hanne Hemstad knows she is truly cursed. It’s not Stieg’s fault that their father is dead, their mother has left, and their brother Knut has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit.

No, the fault lies with Hanne and her inability to control her murderous “gift”–she is a Berserker. When someone she loves is threatened, she flies into a killing state. The siblings must leave Norway for the American frontier or risk being brought to justice.

Aided by a young cowboy who agrees to be their guide, Hanne and her siblings use their powers to survive the perilous trail, where blizzards, wild animals, and vicious bounty hunters await.

Will they be able to reach their uncle, the one man Hanne believes may be able to teach her how to control her drive to kill? With Berserker, Emmy Laybourne, the author of Monument 14, presents her vision of an American west studded with Viking glory.

Trigger Warning: None

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