Thursday, July 3, 2014

2014 reading, books 67-69

67) The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 by Alan Taylor

The 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner for History focuses on a little-known side of one of America's lesser-known wars, the War of 1812, and how Virginian slaves escaped to British ships during Britain's naval raids in the Chesapeake. An illuminating look at the American South a few decades after the Revolution and before the Civil War, not to mention British and American concepts of freedom.

68) The Serpent Garden by Judith Merkle Riley

I adore Riley's Margaret of Ashbury trilogy--in fact, it's one of my comfort re-reads--but I'd never read any of her other books before. This book, set early in the reign of Henry VIII, was enjoyable but not as good as the Margaret books. I felt like it focused too much on the plot and the various villains dabbling in demonology and court intrigue and not enough on the protagonist, who as a result didn't seem as alive and compelling as Margaret. (Incidentally, I'd class it as more historical fantasy than historical fiction, since the supernatural is even more unambiguous and prominent than in the Margaret books.)

69) Dare to Kiss by Jo Beverley

A short novella set in Beverley's Georgian Malloren world about a widow and her five children taken in on a freezing winter night by a reclusive bachelor. She has a scandalous past, and his reclusiveness springs from a physical deformity, and I liked that both the scandal and the deformity are REAL, and not a case of her being falsely accused nor him having scars he thinks are disfiguring but that many women would find sexy.

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